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Published September 30, 2012, 08:41 PM

Service dogs help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

Detroit Lakes, MN (WDAY TV) -- A service dog program in Detroit Lakes is giving people with post-traumatic stress disorder new hope. A program today honored four veterans and their dogs for the program's success.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Detroit Lakes, MN (WDAY TV) -- A service dog program in Detroit Lakes is giving people with post-traumatic stress disorder new hope. A program today honored four veterans and their dogs for the program's success.

When Joseph Buzay met Frankie, he knew immediately they would be best friends.

Buzay: "It was love at first sight. He picked me."

Buzay's a veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.

Buzay: "He wakes me from my nightmares, he can when I'm having a panic attack, I mean, he knows it before I do."

Frankie is part of a program called Patriot Assistance Dogs, based in Detroit Lakes.

Linda Wiedewitsch started it last year to fill a void she saw in these types of service dogs.

Linda: "I hope the dogs will bring a degree of normalcy and structure back to an unstructured situation."

The dogs are trained to keep their owners calm in stressful situations, or pull them away from those situations, if necessary.

By standing in front of or behind their owners, they act as a buffer in case someone approaches too quickly.

Bradley Miles Livingston: "Sometimes, when we have an anxiety episode or PTSD episode, we're not awake. We're not fully there. The dog lets us be in that moment."

Most of the dogs in the program are rescue dogs... like Zoe here, who is in training. She was abandoned in a cardboard box on someone's doorstep, but now she has a new purpose in life.

Buzay says without Frankie he wouldn't be alive today.

Buzay: "Truly changed my life. Without him, I couldn't think of living. He means everything to me."

The dogs are trained to help veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or other psychiatric challenges.

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