How Operation Delta Dog Uses Service Dogs to Help Veterans


*** Operation Delta Dog is hosting it's the 7th Annual Walk and Wag for Veterans on Saturday, November 9th from 10 AM to 2 PM. All proceeds will benefit Operation Delta Dog: Service Dogs for Veterans. The event will be held at Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle, MA, 
In order to learn more about Operation Delta Dog and how they help veterans, we spoke with Emily Holman. 
How did Operation Delta Dog start?  
"Operation Delta Dog was started in 2013 when founder Trisha Blanchet realized two startling statistics: Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives due to the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and that every year, hundreds of thousands of homeless dogs are euthanized because there's simply nowhere for them to go. Her solution was to start Operation Delta Dog, where we rescue homeless dogs and train them to be service dogs for US veterans with PTSD, TBI, MST, and related challenges."
What does the future look like for Operation Delta Dog? 
"We are presently working hard to perfect our service model (as much as is possible working with humans and dogs!) to make our operation scalable. We are the grateful recipients of the Cummings Foundation Sustaining Grant, which gives us $25,000 per year for the next ten years. We are hoping within five years to open a second location to help even more veteran and dog teams."
What is the biggest obstacle that Operation Delta Dog faces? 
"Sustained funding will always be the largest challenge for a small nonprofit such as ours. We have grown by leaps and bounds in the last eighteen months, going from having three staff members working out of our homes to building out an entire training facility (thanks to a generous grant from the Lazin Animal Foundation) and having a team of 14. We work tirelessly to bring the best service to our dogs and veterans, but helping more veterans requires more funding. Events such as the Walk & Wag are a great way to support the organization's mission. Additionally, compassion fatigue is real. Our staff constantly has to make challenging decisions and work with people and dogs that are in their darkest moments."   
What can people do to help Operation Delta Dog impact more lives?
"Donate, fundraise, volunteer, and spread the word! We can only do the work with the help of the public as a nonprofit organization. If you have the means to donate yourself, you can do so easily on our website, www.operationdeltadog.org.  We have many individuals approach us to organize a fundraiser on our behalf, for which we are so grateful. You can volunteer with the organization to represent us at local events or, in certain cases, work directly with our kennel staff and dogs. Finally, spread the word: Like our page on Facebook and share our posts; tell your friends and family about what we do and the impact we're making--your contact just might be our next big supporter."
How does one apply for a service dog?
"Veterans applying to our program should meet the following criteria:
- Have an official diagnosis from a health care provider of PTSD and/or TBI
- Reside in an owned or rented home within an hour of our Training Center in Hollis, NH.
- Be able to commit to the full training process (often one year to eighteen months), which includes one or more weekly, training sessions at our Hollis, NH Training Center, and self-directed at-home training
- If living with others, have the full support of all household members in having a service dog 
Have the ability to care for oneself and a service dog

    Applicants should request an application packet by email or post (apply@operationdeltadog.com). This application will ask general information and give us permission to contact a chosen healthcare provider and conduct a background check. Applicants should be notified within two weeks if they have been chosen for the next step.

     After a favorable review of the application, Operation Delta Dog will schedule an in-person interview with our Veteran Caseworker and members of the training staff. This will allow us to learn more about your goals and what needs the program can meet. This interview takes place at our Hollis, NH training facility. 

     Following the in-person interview, the Veteran Caseworker and training staff will schedule a home visit. This allows Operation Delta Dog staff to assess the suitability of the home for a service dog, as well as meet family members and other pets. 

     When the home visit has been completed, Operation Delta Dog staff will review all components of the application. Veterans will be notified within two weeks of the home visit if they have been chosen to move forward"

    How much does a dog from Operation Delta Dog cost?
    "The dogs are provided at no cost to the veterans, but it costs the organization over $25,000 to support a dog and veteran pair over their 12-18 months of training."
    To learn more about Operation Delta Dog please visit their website!