A Des Moines nonprofit raises, trains and places service dogs typically with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
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A civilian is now getting the chance to work with a service dog through Paws and Effect.
Tom Bowen was a firefighter in West Virginia who went directly to Manhattan, New York to volunteer for two months after the World Trade Center towers collapsed. His experience landed him on the body recovery team.
When asked about his time working at Ground Zero, Bowen said it’s “the kind of thing don't know how to put words to."
Bowen has tried medications and therapies to lessen the effects of PTSD. Now he's trying Bragg, a 2-year-old specially trained black lab he met last week.
Paws and Effect works with sufferers of PTSD to help them learn to train their new best friends stay behind them in public in order to prevent anyone from approaching from behind and startling their masters.
Bowen's wife and five children may be the biggest winners if Bragg can help control Bowen's adrenaline bursts, which shoot him from frustration to rage, and triggers his violent night terrors.
Bowen said he's more hopeful for his future than he was a week ago because of Bragg.
“They have the ability to grab ahold of these veterans, and guys like me, and redirect, especially when you need it,” Bowen said.
Bowen is driving Bragg from Des Moines back home to West Virginia on Friday.
Paws and Effect has placed 35 dogs in five years. It costs the nonprofit up to $25,000 to train each dog, and the organization operates solely on donations.
If you would like to learn more about Paws and Effect or find out where you can donate, visit www.paws-effect.org.