Blind World Magazine

Paws for Patriots.

January 12, 2006.
Bradenton Herald - FL, United States.

PALMETTO - Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. is launching Paws for Patriots to provide guide dogs to 30 military veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who became vision-impaired or disabled during their service.

Two veterans have already been assigned dogs, according to Southeastern Guide Dogs spokeswoman Lindsey Nickel.

Lance Cpl. Michael Jernigan, who has started training with Keira, a yellow Goldador, lost his vision while on patrol in Mahmudiyah, Iraq.

On Aug. 22, 2004, as Jernigan was traveling down a road in a Humvee, an improvised explosive device exploded, injuring the Pinellas County resident.

The other veteran now in training with a dog is Staff Sgt. Donovan Speith, who lives in Hillsborough County.

Speith, who is not vision-impaired but is confined to a wheelchair, has been assigned a dog from the Gifted Canine Program, which provides service dogs to help disabled people.

The Southeastern Guide Dogs provide trained dogs, which cost about $40,000 to raise and train, free of charge.

For more information call 792-5665 or visit the

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