Zero 22 – Veterans Helping Veterans Train Service Dogs
Zero 22 trains veterans on how to train their service dogs. And USAF veteran Alex Stubs, along with his wife and several veteran friends are at the helm. It is a promising new organization that can help veterans and their families receive the healing of a service dog immediately rather than wait for months or years for help.
Alex was in the US Air Force as a Security Forces member for 6 years. But chronic ear infections eventually forced him to have his ear canals reconstructed. He was then medically separated from the service, which left him in a difficult position and not able to do anything. He was in need of a service dog.
Enter: Arya, his German Shepherd. She brought immediate emotional support, and it was her influence that forced him to get ‘back into life.’ He worked with her for two years, and eventually he became certified with the AKC to train service dogs.
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) does not require special certifications for Service dogs, and allows the animals to be trained by the owner. But going out in public does require a test.
Arya passed the Public Access Test, which includes some of these behaviors:
- No aggressive behavior (biting, barking, growling, etc.)
- Only urinating or defecating on command
- Surcease of sniffing behaviors
- No solicitations for food or affection
- Curbed excitement and hyperactivity
His success gave him the idea – why not train his fellow veterans to train their own service dogs? And do it at a cost that wasn’t out of sight.
Zero 22 Training – No veteran suicides is the goal
A specially bred service dog can cost up to $20,000. Training that dog can run from $200 to $600 for just six lessons…some up into the thousands. The psychological effects of a service dog can save a veteran’s life.
Zero 22 can do several things: they train via video chat and demonstrate the techniques. They can train mobility dogs, medical alert dogs, PTSD and emotional support dogs. Experts say that in order to build bonds, the animal should not be sent away to a training facility, but should be trained by the person themselves- perfect for Zero 22.
Those that can’t afford the services have an opportunity to utilize the ‘Pay it forward’ program that Zero 22 has set up. A GoFundMe is created for the veteran looking for that certain breed of dog they have always wanted. The pay it forward program sets a limit for each veteran of 700 dollars, which generally covers the cost of the breed and the initial cost of care for the dog.
Families are participating in the training as well, which is the perfect way to encourage everyone to help.
Alex shared about one veteran whose entire outlook changed since she received her Service Dog. Jackie and Jax are now inseparable and the horizon is no longer bleak for her. They are making great progress in Zero 22 ‘s training program. She and other veterans who are now able to access the training are making great strides in returning to the hope they had before. “We come to them in their own backyard through the video chat.”
Featured photo: Arya on watch – all photos provided by Zero 22