Animal Behavior College Student and U.S. Navy Veteran Embarks on Second Career Training Homeless Dogs to Help Fellow Veterans with PTSD

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In commemoration of Veteran's Day, Animal Behavior College Celebrates U.S. Navy Veteran and ABC student Russell Steed. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2016 and successfully trained his service dog, Jasper.

After spending many years in the military, some veterans seek second careers that are fulfilling and gives them a sense of purpose,” said Chris Gant, a former Marine and ABCDT. “They enroll in ABC and combine what they’ve learned with the skills and abilities they’ve acquired from the military.

Night sweats, microseizures and migraines are ever-present reminders of the aftereffects of the injury Russell Steed sustained during his service in the U.S. Navy from 1982 to 1992. After being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2016, the Benton, Arkansas, resident acquired Jasper, a 3-month-old Poodle. Within 4 months, Mr. Steed successfully trained him to be a therapy pet. Feeling inspired by his accomplishment, he decided to embark on a second career training shelter dogs to help veterans with PTSD in his community. He soon enrolled in Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) online dog trainer program to become a Certified Animal Behavior Dog Trainer (ABCDT).

“[I Enrolled in ABC] because a professional certification credential is important; I want to be taken seriously as a dog trainer,” said Mr. Steed who is currently training a 3-month-old husky mix while taking the program. “It was important to me to find a dog training program that was structured that I could commit and do from start to finish. ABC is just that.”

In addition to his dog training homework, Mr. Steed recently hosted an adoption event through a program he founded, I Got Your Six (no affiliation with the national coalition) in Benton where nine dogs from a local animal control and humane society were adopted. The successful event only fueled his determination to complete his ABC certification and train shelter dogs so he can begin plans to open a school to train PTSD-service dogs for veterans or anyone else in need.

As of September 30, 2017, 151 U.S. veterans and more than 3,500 military spouses and other dependents have enrolled and graduated three of ABC’s four programs—dog training, veterinary assisting and pet grooming. Mr. Steed is expected to graduate in 2018.

“After spending many years in the military, some veterans seek second careers that are fulfilling and gives them a sense of purpose,” said Chris Gant, a former Marine and ABCDT. “They enroll in ABC courses and combine what they’ve learned with the skills and abilities they’ve acquired from the military to help them succeed.”

Mr. Gant is the instructor of ABC’s In-Classroom Dog Trainer Instructor Program, which is offered on-campus for civilians and military veterans, their spouses and dependent children. The 5-month intensive program is very popular with veterans, many of whom have PTSD and find that working with dogs helps them. The program is tailored to individuals who prefer a classroom environment as opposed to an online course.

As the number of people who adopt and purchase pets continues to grow, owners are spending more on a variety of products and services for their companion animals. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that Americans will spend $69.36 billion on their pets for food, training, veterinary care, supplies, pet grooming and boarding, over-the-counter medicine, pet purchases and other services combined. With 94.2 million cats and 89.7 million dogs owned in the U.S., ABC graduates can work for an established company or organization, and depending on their area of specialty, start their own successful businesses.

In fact, the jobs forecast for animal care and service workers in the U.S. appear promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment will grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. For career changers, high turnover and rapid employment growth are expected to provide excellent job opportunities in the areas of pet training, grooming and veterinary staffing.

In addition to the Dog Obedience Program, ABC offers certifications through three other core programs, including the Grooming Instruction Program , the Cat Training Program and the Veterinary Assistant Program . ABC offers specialized certificates of completion in five Short-Term Programs, including Training Shelter Dogs, Pet Massage, Pet Nutrition and Diet, Pet Sitting and Dog Walking, and Selling and Teaching Private Lessons.

Military veterans may qualify for financial assistance. To learn more, please call 800-795-3294 or visit ABC’s website at https://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/gi-bill-approved-dog-trainer-program/.

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About Animal Behavior College
Animal Behavior College is the school of choice for more professional dog trainers, cat trainers, veterinary assistants and pet groomers than any other specialty schools of its kind. Since its inception in 1998, the school has graduated and certified more than 14,400 professional dog trainers through the Dog Obedience Program and more than 10,000 professional pet groomers and veterinary assistants combined through the Grooming Instruction and Veterinary Assistant Programs.

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Angela Pena
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