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South Texas Living

Rescued dog now serves others

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September 18, 2013 | 2,498 views | Post a comment

If you were a dog, you might think getting picked up by Animal Control is the worst thing that could ever happen. For one dog it turned out to be her luckiest day yet!

Unclaimed by her owner, Merle, a female, black German shepherd mix sitting in the Floresville Canine Holding Facility, was scheduled to be humanely euthanized when she was rescued by Cody Brewton of Las Lomas K9 Rescue & Adoption Foundation for a very special opportunity -- the chance to train as a service animal for disabled veterans.

Carolyn Keiser of K-9 Behavior Training in La Vernia had contacted Brewton requesting to evaluate shelter dogs for the opportunity to train as service animals. When presented with Merle, Keiser agreed to take and train the 3-year-old dog to test as a service dog for disabled veterans, especially veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Keiser, who trains dogs for T.A.D.S.A.W. Train A Dog, Save A Warrior, a nonprofit organization, said, “Normally a dog would be trained and ready for service in 5-7 months, but Merle could take longer because of extra instruction needed to reteach a once-starved dog’s relationship to food.” Merle’s chances of becoming matched with a veteran only increased with time.

Elizabeth Bryan of Wilson County Spay/Neuter Group donated services for Merle’s spay while Las Lomas K9 provided vaccinations, de-worming, grooming, and heartworm prevention. “Merle never would have had this opportunity if it weren’t for former City Manager Andy Joslin agreeing to work with Las Lomas,” Brewton said. “In just over one year we have rescued close to 40 dogs from the holding facility, and either found the owner or found a new owner. Merle’s the first one trained to serve disabled veterans and I couldn’t be prouder!”

Service animals are legally defined under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places and are not considered pets.

While Merle’s service dog test is still several months away, her training is going extremely well. “Training will increase her chances of getting adopted if she doesn’t pass the service dog requirements,” Brewton said. “But Merle’s smart and Carolyn is a great dog handler. I know she’ll do fine.”

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