Monday, June 13, 2011

Stiggy’s Dogs: “Rescuing One to Help Rescue Another”

by Kristina Derro
Veterans Disability Lawyer

The staff at Legal Help for Veterans had some phenomenal visitors this past week! Members of Stiggy’s Dogs came to visit!

Stiggy’s Dogs was created in memory of Benjamin Phillip (“Doc Stiggy”) Castiglione, a Marine who dedicated his life to preserving and improving the physical and emotional health of those serving in his unit. He gave his life working as a Corpsman in Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan, taking care of “his Marines” until September 3, 2009.

Stiggy’s Dogs is an extraordinary non-profit organization aimed at assisting veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The organization takes shelter dogs and rehabilitates them, training them and turning them into Psychiatric Service Dogs for veterans who suffer from PTSD and/or TBI. The dogs are ADA compliant and as service dogs, are able to go with their veteran into any building!

The Psychiatric Service Dogs are each individually trained to meet their veteran’s specific needs. They are taught to perform tasks ranging from reminding veterans to take their medicine, waking them up from a nightmare, and directing them through a crowd. Research has shown that 82% of veterans with PTSD who were assigned a dog had a decrease in his/her symptoms, and 40% of the veterans had a decrease in the amount of medications that they had to take!

Speaking with a veteran who was given a Psychiatric Service Dog, he discussed how he is now able to leave his house with his dog without constantly fearing panic attacks, and even recently rode on an airplane—a task he previously thought impossible due to his severe psychiatric symptomatology.

It is estimated that there are currently 5 million dogs sitting in shelters across America waiting to be euthanized. Stiggy’s Dogs goal is to rescue shelter dogs, train them to be Psychiatric Service Dogs, and pair them with a well-deserving veteran! By uniting the military hero and the shelter dog, Stiggy’s Dogs is “rescuing one to help rescue another”.

Please visit Stiggy’s Dogs’ website to learn more about the non-profit organization: Although based in Michigan, they pair both veterans and dogs from around the nation.

As a non-profit, Stiggy’s Dogs relies solely on donations in order to keep its program running. A local news channel recently profiled Stiggy’s Dogs and discussed the need for donations. View that video here: If you can donate money, dog toys, dog bedding, dog crates, dog food, or even your time, it would be much appreciated.

To learn more or to contact a Veterans disability lawyer, Veterans disability attorney, Veterans lawyer, or Veterans attorney call 1.800.693.4800 or visit

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