American Humane Expands Pups4Patriots Program to Include First Responders

April 19, 2024
In addition to military veterans, first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury are eligible for a free service dog.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 18, 2024) — Today, American Humane, the country’s first national animal welfare organization, announced that first responders diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are eligible to apply for a service dog through the organization’s Pups4Patriots program at no cost to the individual.

American Humane is committed to harnessing the healing power of the human-animal bond to put more healing leashes into the hands of first responders and veterans in need. Through Pups4Patriots, American Humane finds dogs in search of forever homes and trains them to be lifesaving service dogs for invisible wounds.

More than 80 percent of first responders experience traumatic events on the job and because they face challenging and dangerous situations, first responders are at a high risk of developing PTS as a work-related injury or condition. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, roughly one in three first responders, including emergency personnel, rescue teams, firefighters, and police officers, develop PTS.

“After providing such incredible public service to their communities, often first responders can face another daunting obstacle,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane. “Many have mental scars from their work responding to emergencies that can manifest as anxiety, depression, and nightmares—struggles that can be eased by the healing power of a wagging tail.”  

American Humane recently matched service dog, Freja, with Christina, a wildland firefighter and EMT in Idaho. Freja, a standard poodle, helps Christina through anxiety and makes her more comfortable in everyday life.

“Freja has been the most wonderful partner for me,” said Christina. “She has learned nightmare and anxiety interruption, has learned to wake me when I go through phases of hypersomnia, does deep pressure therapy, and crowd control. On top of all this, she gives me constant love and attention that makes me happy. She is my best friend.”

Research shows that specially trained PTS service dogs can reduce stress and anxiety levels, mitigate depression, ease social reintegration, provide comfort, and restore confidence in affected first responders. However, there are many obstacles standing in the way of heroes in need of service dogs including long waiting lists and an expensive process, with training costing upwards of $30,000 per service dog. American Humane provides the training and the service dog to the veteran or first responder at no cost to them.

The Pups4Patriots program is made possible through the generous support of donors. To learn how to contribute to the program, visit For more information on the Pups4Patriots program and to apply, visit


About American Humane:

American Humane is the United States’ first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare, helping to ensure the humane treatment of more than one billion animals across the globe each year. Founded in 1877, American Humane has been First to Serve™ the cause of animals and for 145 years has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in the humane movement. For more information or to support our lifesaving work, please visit, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and subscribe to our channel on YouTube for the latest breaking news and features about the animals with whom we share our Earth.

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