The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Patriot PAWS gives back to veterans nationwide

Photo by Ishika Samant

Rain, a two year old Goldador Patriot Paws puppy in training during their monthly member meetings on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023 in the Kleberg Animal & Food Sciences Center.

Since its establishment in 2013, Patriot PAWS of Aggieland has touched the lives of over 500 veterans. Over the years, the organization has trained several hundred dogs on Texas A&M’s campus for disabled veterans.

The organization professionally raises and trains puppies under the advisory of the national organization Patriot PAWS Service Dogs. Patriot PAWS holds monthly general meetings, weekly training meetings, daily puppy outings and the occasional profit share. 

Biomedical sciences senior Emily Self, president of Patriot PAWS of Aggieland, said the mission of the growing organization is to provide free assistance to veterans.

“The mission of Patriot PAWS is to train and provide service dogs of the highest quality, and at no cost, to disabled American veterans to help restore their physical and emotional independence,” Self said.

Self said the organization has experienced consistently high membership over the past couple of years, allowing them to raise an impressive amount of service dogs.

“This year we have about 200 members and about 100 of those are puppy-raisers,” Self said. “We’ve placed a little over 500 service dogs with veterans as full-time working dogs, but we also have different placements that we can help veterans with.”

Civil engineering senior Tyler Mai, fundraising coordinator of Patriot PAWS for Aggieland, said that the future of the organization looks very bright.

“We are actually the only branch of Patriot PAWS on a university campus since the organization itself is a medium-sized organization, but it’s growing to be larger,” Mai said. “They’re thinking about expanding to other campuses, but they’re still trying to figure out the logistics of that.”

Mai also said the organization has personally affected him and called it truly rewarding service work.

“Just seeing some of my dogs go through graduation and meeting the veteran they’re getting paired up with is such a great feeling,” Mai said. “The dogs really do have a huge impact on veterans, they become best friends the second they are matched with them.”

Newly trained puppy-raiser and animal science freshman Haley Petton said Patriot PAWS is manageable for anybody’s schedule. 

“I have a very busy schedule, and I’m still able to handle it,” Petton said. “So if somebody doesn’t think that they can handle doing it, but they want to, they should just try.”

Having recently started the new semester with her first puppy, Petton said her favorite thing about raising her dog is that she gets to attend regular outings, just as a student would.

“The best part of having her is she goes everywhere with me,” Petton said. “She goes to every single one of my classes, all my [organization] meetings and all of my extracurriculars.”

Self said there is a powerful incentive that is felt to sacrifice one’s time for the dogs one raises. Self said the fact that veterans have put their lives on the line for their country motivates her to give back through nonprofit work.

“Some of these veterans had not left their house in two to three years just because of their social anxiety or other disabilities,” Self said. “These veterans have done so much for us, so being able to even play a small part in giving them back some independence, that means so much.”

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