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2015-03-26

Hill Country church donates to VADogs

Special to the Courier

At left, Rick Trzcinski of VADogs accepts a $3,065 check from Bob Lentner, president of the Unitarian Universal Church of the Hill Country. At VADogs' five-acre site near Kerrville, a 4,000 square foot training facility will be constructed enabling from 14 to 20 service dogs to be trained annually to assist disabled veterans.



The Unitarian Universal Church of the Hill Country (UUCHC) has donated $3,065 to the Veterans Assistance Dogs of Texas (VADogs), an organization based in Kerrville that trains service dogs for disabled veterans.
Bob Lentner, who serves as president of the UUCHC Board of Directors, said, "We are a small congregation trying to do our part for the community and those who live here. Veterans are one of the groups here we try to support in whatever ways are available."
According to Rick Trzcinski, member of the board of directors for VADogs and leader with the "Sons of the American Revolution," members of the UUCHC are dog lovers and want to help both the dogs and disabled veterans. VADogs uses rescue dogs, mostly Labrador Retriever breeds. This breed in particular has a gentle demeanor and the ability to learn the skills a dog must have to be certified as a legitimate service dog.
After VADogs rescues a suitable dog, the dog gets an in-depth screening by a veterinarian before being accepted into the training program. The training program usually takes 10 to 12 months plus another month with a matched disabled veteran.
During that time, the dogs learn basic obedience, then advanced skills training, public access training and finally teamwork training. During the teamwork training, the dog is matched with a veteran and the pair work together and must both pass two difficult tests before the canine is certified as a service dog.
The training can cover four types of disabilities, physical disability, traumatic brain injury (TBI) disability and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as an older, but just recently recognized, form of disability, military sexual trauma (MST). MST applies to both men and women and is not restricted to only rape as a trauma. Some of the affects and symptoms are very similar to those of veterans suffering from PTSD.
Service dog training can cost close to $10,000 to pay for veterinarian costs, trainer costs and dog food costs; however, the total training time and total costs can vary.
A nonprofit, 501(c)3 corporation, VADogs operates totally from funds donated by individuals, companies and foundations, among other sources. All donations are fully tax-deductible to the maximum allowed by law.
For more information about VADogs, visit www.VADogs.org or call 830-792-4377. The email address is info@VADogs.org.