Staff Sgt. Brad Vande Hei, a Marine with Wounded Warrior Battalion-East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and Army Pvt. Sylvia Kasch -- who is a military police officer with N.C. National Guard -- spend many hours training and rehabilitating shelter dogs.
They train the dogs in basic obedience, tracking and trailing, trick training, and service tasks to make them more adoptable.
More than 40 canines have been adopted as service dogs by service members in the local community, writes Lance Cpl. Justin Rodriguez for the JacksonvilleDaily News.
Beginning with rehabilitating a Pit Bull discarded by dog fighters, the two service members have forged a lifetime partnership helping abused, neglected and abandoned dogs.
Vande Hei, the founder of Unleashed Dog Training and a certified dog trainer with more than 17 years of experience, told Cpl. Rodriguez that she has always had a passion for dogs in need.
“Since the age of 11, I’ve had a love for training animals,” she said. “Seeing the impact my parents had as volunteer dog raisers pushed me to train service dogs for the military community.”
“Years ago, I came across a pit bull who was used for dog-fighting,” said Kasch. “A deploying service member saved the dog. That person never returned from combat, and the dog’s time was coming to a close (at the shelter). I decided to take him in until someone else gave him a home.”
Rescuing that dog first caused Kasch to contact Vande Hei because of his experience with animal training.
She soon realized she needed an experienced professional to get the dog physically and emotionally stable. “She came to me looking for help,” said Vande Hei. “I helped her with everything she needed free of charge, and we’ve been working together ever since. She’s a hard worker. You can tell this is her passion.”
The Pit Bull was adopted. Personally witnessing the daily journey of the dog’s recovery from abuse to adoption inspired Kasch to help as many dogs as possible. It also guided her to develop a rescue group and help Vande Hei with his mission of training dogs from area shelters.
That experience ultimately led to the partnership between the Marine and the soldier who share a compelling personal mission to place as many dogs as possible in loving homes.
Source: JD News