Canine Companions for Independence® Celebrates 5,000th Service Dog Team

SANTA ROSA, CA – Navy veteran Jason Gieser spent 9 years training fellow military in survival skills. But nothing prepared him for an accident years later that left him paralyzed from the chest down. On Friday, May 13th, Jason received a new battle buddy, Canine Companions for IndependenceÒ Service Dog Sandoval, trained in over 40 commands to help Jason increase his independence by performing physical tasks that are often more difficult for someone in a wheelchair.

What’s more, Jason helped mark a milestone for Canine Companions as they celebrated their 5,000th assistance dog placement. For over 40 years, Canine Companions has been enhancing the lives of people with disabilities with highly trained assistance dogs, including over 140 dogs with wounded military veterans and over 1,500 dogs with children.

Canine Companions CEO Paul Mundell shares, “We are thrilled about this incredible milestone—placing our 5,000th assistance dog team. We look forward to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities, by providing them assistance dogs and ongoing support, for years to come.”

Jason, a California native, enlisted in the Navy shortly after graduating from high school. He spent 9 years on active duty in the Navy, including time where he instructed for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE), providing service members training in evading capture and survival skills. After leaving the Navy in 2007, Jason immediately entered the Police Academy in Oakland and served as a police officer in Oakland before being hired by the Antioch Police Department in mid 2008. In October of 2008, while riding a motorcycle with two other officers, a car hit Jason head-on. Jason’s accident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Now a wheelchair user, Jason is excited to be partnered with Service Dog Sandoval to help pick up dropped items off of the ground and deliver them to him, turn on and off lights, open and close doors and pull Jason in his wheelchair, as well as offer constant companionship.

Canine Companions assistance dogs start out in the homes of volunteers learning basic obedience and socialization. The canines then spend 6-9 months in professional training and are then partnered with their human in a two-week Team Training class. This amazing milestone—placing 5,000 teams—was celebrated in heart-warming graduation ceremonies across the country.

To learn more or volunteer to help veterans like Jason, visit cci.org/veterans or call 1-800-572-BARK (2275).

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About Canine Companions for Independence
Canine Companions for Independence provides highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities. Established in 1975, Canine Companions has six training centers across the country, including CA, FL, OH, NY and TX. Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. There is no charge for the dog, its training and ongoing follow-up services. For more information, call 1-800-572-BARK or visit www.cci.org.

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