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ICAN helping Indiana veterans through special division

See one veteran's story coming up Saturday, Jan. 27, on Pet Pals TV!

Samantha Thompson

ICAN communications manager

For many US veterans, the battle isn’t over when they return home from active duty. And the service-related trauma they live with negatively impacts their quality of life. 

Thankfully, for Hoosier veterans living in Northeast Indiana, the Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN), a nonprofit service dog organization, is helping these brave service members living with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, andmilitary sexual trauma by pairing them with a psychiatric service dog through its Veteran Services Division (VSD) in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. And thanks to a partnership with the Veteran Affairs Northern Indiana Health Care System, ICAN offers these dogs free of cost to qualifying veterans.

“This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to these extraordinary men and women,” said Sean Diamond, ICAN Vice President of Programs. “They risked their lives for us, so this is the least we can do for them.” 

Veteran Billy Floyd is training Bella to be a service dog.

For its veteran placements, ICAN’s VSD uses rescue dogs from shelters, veterans’ existing pets, or dogs from reputable assistance dog breeders. However, just like with a breeding program, the dogs must meet specific criteria to be considered service dog candidates. ICAN reviews the dog’s health history, age, temperament, and physical traits before accepting the canine to the training program.


Once the dog completes the program, which generally takes about two years, the canine can be trained to apply deep pressure therapy, create a safe personal space, look around corners of aisles/doorways, alert and react to emotional responses, turn on lights, help with mobility and balance assistance, retrieve and carry objects like medications, wake alert during nightmares, interrupt flashbacks and more. 


“Our dogs really can help those fighting service-related trauma have the opportunity to become more independent, break barriers, and overcome challenges,” said Diamond. “These dogs help them regain the courage to go out and live life again.


For those interested in learning more about ICAN’s VSD and eligibility requirements for qualifying applicants, click here:


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