Fundraiser held for local organization that pairs PTSD service dogs with vets

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local organization that helps pair veterans with PTSD service dogs held a fundraiser Thursday night.

Eddie Reynolds knows he can always count on Callie, his service dog, to have his back.

“She’ll put her paw on my hand,” he said. “You know, she can tell when I’m a little antsy or whatever.”

The 2-year-old Golden Retriever turned his world around after he spent years in a depression following a tour in Iraq.

“I wasn’t doing much of anything, really,” Reynolds said. “I was sitting at the house isolated.”

One day, he decided he would do something about it and get a service dog. But costs and long wait times discouraged him.

“I just said, ‘Forget it. I’ll just buy my own dog,’” he said.

So in 2015, he got Callie. Months later, Reynolds came across Joni Bonilla, who was starting a program called Operation at Ease. The program allows veterans the chance to train their pets to become PTSD service dogs.

“We offer them, free of charge, six months of training class, where they come to class every week and public access lessons,” Bonilla said.

Reynolds signed up, and along the way, he slowly started to get out of the house.

“I started going out to maybe just Dunkin’ Donuts or a coffee shop,” he said.

Now, he’s doing all that and more because of Bonilla’s program.

“It’s changed my whole perspective on life,” Reynolds said.

If it weren’t for Callie or Operation at Ease, Reynolds wouldn’t be where he is today, and he’s hoping his story offers the motivation for others to take their lives back, too.

“If I can do it, I know they can do it, too,” he said.

Operation at Ease runs on donations and fundraisers. NEWS10 ABC Chief Meteorologist Steve Caporizzo was the emcee at Thursday’s event.

If you know a veteran who may want a service dog, contact Operation at Ease or call 518-847-9941

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