Veterans and Pit Bulls, Workin' Hand-in-Paw

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We want to give a shout-out to Guardian Pit Bull Rescue and Club Canine for launching a therapy program that pairs pits with veterans.

Operations Pits Healing Heroes "will rescue and train pit bull candidates to become service and companion dogs, and help veterans regain physical and emotional independence," according to a Guardian press release.

Each veteran applicant will go through a training program with his or her canine counterpart, ensuring that the dog "is trained specifically to the needs of their veteran partner and can develop a lifelong bond from day one," according to the release. (Training lasts from five to nine months).

The brand-new program has only one partnership so far: Justin Masters, a former Marine suffering from PTSD, has been paired with Pancake, a pit who was stolen from the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in November 2013 and later returned by a good samaritan. That's a kick-ass couple right there.

OPPH Director Lauren Masters says, "Studies have shown that dogs provide a therapeutic interaction that can improve temperament and build confidence. Pit bulls are natural people pleasers with the heart and mind to be more than a family pet, which makes them an excellent fit for this type of rehabilitation program."

And it's not just a benefit for the veterans, but for the dogs as well. Guardian points out that "by using only pit bulls, the program will help save the lives of countless dogs, provide a free community service, create positive ambassadors for the breed and help rehabilitate the reputation of the most misunderstood dogs in America."

Here's the thing: The program, run entirely by volunteers, could use a few bucks to reach as many veterans as possible. Please visit the OPPH website for info on how to donate.

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