Soldier’s Best Friend provides U.S. military veterans living with combat-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with service or therapeutic companion dogs, most of which are rescued from local shelters.

Soldier’s Best Friend will be hosting its Seventh Annual Sporting Clay Event 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 7 at Ben Avery Clay Target Center, 5060 W. Skeet St. in Phoenix, 1.5 miles west of Interstate 17 on Carefree Highway.

“Our service dog training program is provided at no cost to the veteran and it is all possible only with the support of the community. We hope they will come out to support us at this event. We receive an average of 40 inquiries a month from veterans interested in the program; clearly the need exists,”  said John Burnham, the local veterinarian who founded the organization in 2011. “The two critical components of our mission are 1) providing service dogs trained to do PTSD service work, which helps mitigate the veteran’s symptoms and readjustment to civilian life; and 2) providing homes for local shelter dogs. Once paired with a dog, the dog-veteran team train together for six to nine months before graduating from the program. Soldier’s Best Friend is committed to providing honorable work and loving forever homes for rescue dogs that are suited to this life-changing service. With each pairing, the veteran and dog build a relationship that can save two lives and inspire countless others. 

“Upon graduation, the dog qualifies as a trained service or therapeutic companion dog and aids in the veteran’s readjustment to civilian life, rebuilding self-esteem, confidence and trust through the canine connection.”

Through February 2018, 210 veteran-dog teams have graduated with an additional 44 teams currently in training.

All skill levels are welcome to the sporting clay event and loaner equipment will be available. Registration includes 50 clay pigeons, 50 shotgun shells, lunch, prizes for first, second and third place, as well as opportunities for prize drawings for all participants.

Sponsorships remain available and offer a great opportunity to showcase one’s business. All proceeds from the event will be used to grow the pair-and-train program. The average cost to pair, equip, train and support each veteran/dog team is $4,000. Sponsorships and community support help Soldier’s Best Friend provide ongoing support to veterans and their families, as they transition into their new lives.

For more information about Soldier’s Best Friend and the Sporting Clay Event, visit the website http://soldiersbestfriend.org, or call 623-218-6486.