Orange County group trains service dogs to help veterans

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- What do you do after life as a Navy Seal? One local man found his true calling: training service dogs for veterans.

It's not your average dog obedience class, and veteran Andy McTigue is not your average instructor. Mctigue was a member of Navy Seal Team 1. These days, his new team focuses on helping other veterans using dogs.

McTigue said, "I was asked to train a dog myself and next thing I know I was training for veterans, it was absolutely delightful."

McTigue is the president of the Veterans Canine Intelligence Academy. It's a non-profit based in Irvine designed to help veterans learn how to train their dogs to be service animals.

Paul Schwabl is one of more than 100 students. He says his German Shepherd Chris has helped him manage his PTSD. "When I get really excited and stuff he'll actually drag me and take me in a different direction," Schwabl said, "And it calms me right down."
Even if a veteran does not have a dog, the academy will help pair them with one so they can train it.

McTigue says it usually takes about a year of free classes with him and his volunteers to get these animals certified as service dogs. "It allows them to participate in everyday life, go to school, go to the grocery store," McTigue said.

And while having a service dog provides these brave men and women with much-needed support, they say the process of training them is even more rewarding.

Jennifer Shrout is one the volunteers who trains service dogs. "It gives them a sense of purpose, that hey, I can train my dog, my dog can obey me and they can go out and be able to go places," she said.

The Veterans Canine Intelligence Academy is always looking for donations and grant writers so they can help as many veterans as possible.
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.