OUR MISSION STATEMENT:
Uniting our psychologically and emotionally impaired Veterans across North Carolina with trained Companion, Emotional Support and Dogs rescued from kill shelters so that the two can heal in unconditional love, trust and loyalty.
Wags 4 Tags’ objective is three-fold:
1) RESCUE DOGS FROM KILL SHELTERS:
North Carolina has the highest pet euthanasia rate in the United States; therefore it is our objective to save as many dogs as possible by giving them a purpose through skilled, compassionate and specialized training.
2) HELP OUR VETERANS SUFFERING FROM PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL INJURIES SUCH AS PTSD, TBI AND DEPRESSION:
North Carolina not only has 5 large Military Bases, 5 VA Hospitals, 13 Outpatient VA Centers, but the 3th largest military population in the United States; therefore it is our objective to serve as many veterans suffering psychological and emotional impairments and disabilities such as PTSD, TBI, depression, anxiety by providing them with canines that have undergone specialized training and that “understand”. Depending on the level of specialized trained required, the dogs will be trained to pass the AKC’s Canine Good Citizenship Test or as an Emotional Support Dog (with Letter of Certification).
3) ENGAGE OUR GENEROUS COMMUNITY TO THANK OUR VETERANS:
According to two national sources* North Carolina is among the top 10 “Most Generous States” in America; therefore it is our objective to reach out and engage as many people as possible in this valuable endeavor. We are humbled by the support we receive from Nursing Homes, Businesses, Rotary Clubs, and countless civic organizations and individuals who have shown that they too, “have not forgotten” or pets or our Vets. *Forbes, “America’s Most Generous States”, 10.24.06; Main Street, “Santa States: The Most Generous in the US, 2.22.11 (www.mainstreet.com)
- North Carolina has the highest pet euthanasia rate in the Nation. Nearly 300,000 pets are killed in shelters each year. That’s 5,769 a week. That’s 824 each day. That’s 103 pets each hour. Many of these pets have so much potential, if only given a chance to recover from their past – and help someone else recover from their past…not to mention that many shelters in North Carolina still use a rudimentary and inhumane gas chamber to euthanize these pets.
- North Carolina is home to 4 large VA hospitals, 12 outpatient posts, and 5 large military bases. Due to the additions of U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command, Fort Bragg will be the largest Army installation in the world. (
VA HOSPITALS Locations:-Ashville, NC-Durham, NC-Fayetteville, NC-Salisbury, NC
- Half of all active duty military is stationed in five states and North Carolina has the 3rd largest military population in the United States. It is also known as the Nation’s “Most Military Friendly State. (www.thrivenc.com/sites/default/files/uploads/MilitaryFactsheet.pdf; Vice President for Federal Relations October 5, 2010 Presentation to UNC SERVES)
- Since October 2001 more than 1.8 million US Troops have served in OEF and OIF, 37% of whom have deployed at least twice… 1 in 4 or 25% of these Troops have been diagnosed with PTSD, TBI, anxiety, depression and other psychological and emotional issues. (Dr. Carmen Russoniello, Director TOP Program, ECU.)
* UPDATE: From January 2012-June 2012 more soldiers have committed suicide than have died in combat. The Pentagon reported that there were 124 servicemen and women killed in action this year, and 154 suicides during that same period. FORT BRAGG HAS THE HIGHEST SUICIDE RATE OF ANY OTHER MILITARY INSTALLATION, with 13 suicides this year.
PIECING IT TOGETHER:
Volumes of documentation (and personal experiences) suggest that canines have a therapeutic effect, positively influencing our psychological and emotional well-being thereby improving our quality of life.
“Recent research suggests that people with psychiatric disabilities can benefit significantly from assistive animals, too. Emotional support animals have been proven extremely effective at ameliorating the symptoms of these disabilities, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, by providing therapeutic nurture and support.”(Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, “Fair Housing Information/Right to Emotional Support Animals in “No Pet” Housing”, Washington, D.C.)
“…animals that provide emotional support have been recognized as necessary assistance animals under the reasonable accommodation provision of the FHAct and Section 504”. (US Department of Housing and Urban Development, “New ADA Regulations and Assistance Animals as Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973”, February 17, 2011.)
Therefore Wags 4 Tags believes that- along with continued medical care and therapy - our highly trained Companion, and Emotional Support Dogs help our Veterans make the transition into civilian life.
So what makes Wags 4 Tags a unique 501(c)(3) private, non-profit organization? Why should you consider supporting this organization, when there are others out there doing the “same” thing? Because they’re not the same! We're different because:
We have highly trained animal handlers (trainers, fosters)
We offer services not readily provided in NC: provide Companion Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs, as deemed necessary by the Veteran and his/her medical or psychological provider.
We operate solely in North Carolina
We provide tailored training for canine and Veteran at the Wags 4 Tags Training Academy
Our Wags 4 Tags President is a US War Veteran who understands – firsthand – the seriousness of this unseen injuries that not only impact the Veterans, but their families, friends, and community at large. He is here today because of his rescue dog, “Sadie”.
THERE IS NO COST FOR THE VETERAN. THIS IS OUR WAY OF SAYING “WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN YOU” TO OUR FURRY FRIENDS, AND “THANK YOU” TO OUR WELL DESERVING VETERANS.
Daily, we are researching ways to expand our program to reach more Veterans; for example, we are working to help Veterans suffering from not only combat related PTSD, but trauma associated with MST.
We embrace the community in helping us help our Veterans and canines: We work with Duke University's Sigma Pi Fraternity, Rotary Clubs, DAV, CAR and many more civic Organizations across NC.
Wags 4 Tags Training Facility
He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and served in the United States Army at Fort Bragg for six years. Ronnie saw the need for and charted this organization when he realized that North Carolina has the third highest number of military personnel in the country and the highest percentage kill rate in their animal shelters. Ronnie knows first hand what it means to a veteran to have a companion dog. Sadie, his 6 year old German Shepherd has helped Ronnie with his PTSD. “I can sleep at night because I know Sadie is there looking out for me. What’s more, she not only pulls me out of my nightmares (literally) and like my Guardian, checks on me throughout the night”.
It is said that “often, once you've climbed the ladder of success, you realize the wall your ladder is leaning on isn’t the wall you want”. Terri has a Graduate Degree from The American University in Washington DC and spent many years with the Federal Government. She later managed the Communications System for a large International law firm in Washington, D.C. and subsequently owned her own business. After moving to North Carolina with her husband and daughter 15 years ago, she began actively volunteering in the Community. After learning that North Carolina has the 3rd largest military population AND the highest pet euthanasia rate in the nation, “something clicked” she said. “It spoke to my passion for animal welfare and respect and appreciation for our Military.” Uniting members of the military who are in need of canine support with rescued dogs was a way she could show them both that she had not forgotten them. She truly believes that this is the “Wall” she was meant to lean on.
Our Board of Advisors
The Board of Advisors is comprised of several highly qualified individuals in areas that are pertinent to the success of the program:
Legal Counsel: Susan O'Malley, O'Malley Tunstall PLLC
Veterinary Medicine: Margaret Seal-Edwards, DVM
Mental Health/Social Worker: Jennifer Moynihan-Wynn
Finance/Accountability: Dick Murray, InverMac
Animal Advocacy and Welfar: Cindy Lynch