Graduation day for service dogs - New York News

Graduation day for service dogs

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Some men who have paid a high price for serving their country got a bit of help on Long Island today.

A graduation ceremony for a Canine Companions for Independence class was held in Islandia on Friday.

It marks the end of a rigorous two-week training program where highly trained assistance dogs are partnered with a recipient and both human and canine are trained to work together.

Two U.S. servicemen who were wounded serving in Iraq and Afghanistan were partnered with assistance dogs.

USMC Cpl. John Peck was partnered with Nasar.  Cpl. Peck is an active duty Marine and lives at Bethesda Medical Center.  Retired Captain James Van Thach from Bellerose Manor Queens was partnered with Liz.   Capt. Van Thach was completing his law degree when he was deployed to Iraq.  He now has a law degree from Touro Law Center, and is a member of the New York Bar Association.
Military personnel were not the only ones partnered with service dogs.

Mary Santaromita from the Staten Island District Attorney's office was partnered with Jody.  Mary is a victim advocate, and Jody will help comfort child abuse and domestic violence victims who must give interviews and testimony.

Canine Companions for Independence says it is the largest non-profit provider of trained assistance dogs. It does not charge for the dog, its training and on-going follow-up services.

For more information, visit

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