CASPER, Wyo. – All proceeds from opening a dog training center in Mills will be donated to support a non-profit organization that trains dogs specifically to help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder .
Carol Salverson, a certified professional dog trainer, told Oil City that she has worked with Project Kenny for four years. The organization pairs dogs with veterans and trains dogs to recognize and interrupt episodes of anxiety and nightmares.
“The purpose of the assistance dog is to help them get back into the community and be part of the community,” said Salveson.
The veteran and the dog receive one private lesson and one group lesson per week, and the veterans do their own training at home. The whole process takes about a year, Salveson said.
“The important thing is socialization. Dogs must be able to go out in public. Salveson said dogs are ideally trained for service from an early age, although an existing pet with the right temperament can also be trained.
“I always say dogs don’t cure PTSD, they help you get through it,” Salveson said.
Of the roughly two dozen veterans Salveson has worked with over the past four years, some had not been able to go shopping or dine out due to anxiety and PTSD. Others overcame chronic suicidal thoughts thanks to the program. Salveson noted that she has seen an increase in trauma among female veterans due to sexual abuse while on active duty.
She said the training is also a relief for the families of the veterans.
“PTSD is difficult for the whole family, and I have seen time and time again how dogs help the whole family cope with the issues the Veteran is facing. “
These operations have already taken place outside of Salveson’s home, and other organizations have occasionally provided space.
The Kenny Project helped lease the space located at 1005 Falcon Road in Mills. General obedience classes will be held under the trade name The Dog Spot, and proceeds will go to support Project Kenny services, which are provided by volunteers and at no cost to Veterans.
The Project Kenny side of the operation is currently open: classes at The Dog Spot are expected to start in mid-January.
With the new facility, Salveson said she is also working to expand service for first responders affected by PTSD.
Salveson, an Air Force veteran and retired teacher, said she was called to the job following a personal tragedy: her son, Bobby, was a Green Beret who committed suicide in March 2017.
“I had no idea, really, how PTSD affects our veterans. Not until he got home, until he was your son. At the memorial, she said she recognized that her son’s teammates were also struggling.
“It was so obvious, so I thought, what can I do to help? She and Bobby both loved dogs, so she started attending school to become a professional trainer that year.
“Dogs are also my therapy,” said Salveson, reflecting on travel over the past four years.
“But the fact that I can help his teammates, the fact that I can help other veterans, is invaluable. I just want to help them.
If you or someone you know is suffering from thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
The following resources are listed on the Natrona County Suicide Prevention Task Force website:
In case of emergency, dial 911.
Natrona County Resources:
- FOR IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE OR IN CASE OF CRISIS:
- FOR NON-CRISIS ASSISTANCE:
- NATRONA COUNTY ONLINE RESOURCES:
- Support groups
- SUICIDE SURVIVOR SUPPORT GROUP
- 1st and 3rd Thursday, from 6.30 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
- 1032 E. First St., Casper, Wyoming
- Contact: Lance Neiberger @ 307-258-6143
- NEVER FORGOTTEN77
- Thursday, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Calvary Chapel Casper: 1725 S. Jackson St. (Basement)
- Contact: Tina Sterken @ 307-337-7763 or Mark Sterken @ 307-251-8231
- The hunt for the life of JR
- 2nd Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.
- 1224 Club: 500 S Wolcott St., Casper, WY 82601
- Contact: Jenny Hunter @ 307-259-6032
- HALOS: HEALING AFTER LOSS OF SUICIDE
- Support group for bereaved children and adolescents
- Every other Tuesday, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- 1200 E. 3rd St., Casper, WY 82601
- Contact: Mari Manthei Robinson @ 307-277-5667
- SUICIDE ATTEMPTED SUPPORT GROUP
- Monday evening – Eight week course, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
- Contact: Terry Crabb @ 307-258-1615
- SUICIDE SURVIVOR SUPPORT GROUP
- National lifeline
- Online Resources