COLORADO — Since 2018, United States Veterans Service Dogs has connected veterans to service dogs.

According to the organization, service dogs are not only companions for veterans but also, in some cases, a lifeline.

Thursday morning, Linnea Edwards and Windy Martin stopped by FOX21 to talk about the organization’s “Puppy Raising Program.”

United States Veterans Service Dogs (USVSD) was founded in 2018 by Cody Bellanger. At the time, Bellanger was the acting CEO of Southern Diabetic Retrievers (SDR). During that time, he saw an avenue for the dogs being career changed from SDR and wanted them to still have a greater purpose. That purpose was found through working mobility and PTSD service dogs.

However, in order to make that purpose a reality, puppies must be trained.

Puppy raisers raise puppies from their ages of 8 weeks until they are around 15-18 months. The raisers teach the puppies basic commands, introductory service dog skills, and socialize them in many different situations in the community/public areas to help prepare them for formal training and their service dog careers. USVSD takes care of all necessary expenses to raise the puppies, the only thing the raisers pay for is food!

Not only are puppy raisers needed, puppy sitters are also a huge part of the group. They provide relief for the puppy raisers when needed and also help expose the puppies in training to new environments. Sitters take the puppies at their convenience when a raiser is traveling or has plans that can’t accommodate their puppy. Our puppies are also required to do a puppy sit once per month just for fun and exposure to new families and environments.

Raisers and sitters are required to come to meetings twice per month, attend monthly outings (raisers only) and learn and abide by all USVSD puppy handbook rules/requirements.

The group meets twice per month on a weekday evening and will have one weekend group outing a month as well. There is no financial obligation for puppy sitters.

People can become involved by filling out an application on our company website or contacting the organization via email. Colorado puppy raising groups for USVSD are called Rocky Mountain Battle Buddies.