Meet Our 2018 Heroes Assistance Dogs Transforming Lives
Kyria Henry & WYATT Founder, paws4people
Kyria is the Founder and Executive Director of paws4people foundation. She was raised with her father’s German Shepherds, and successfully convinced her family to “cross- over” to the Golden Retriever breed, receiving her first puppy when she was 10 years old. Since then, Kyria has been enveloped in the world of dog training, dabbling in disciplines such as advanced obedience, agility, rally, behavior modification, and scent work; but her true love and expertise is Assistance Dogs. Kyria founded the paws4people foundation in 1999. During middle school, high school and college, Kyria worked with her certified Therapeutic Facility and Educational Facility Dogs in nursing homes, hospitals, and special education classrooms. Kyria graduated from West Virginia University summa cum laude from the Honors College with Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Religious Studies, and Speech Pathology and Audiology, with a specialization in Disability Studies. She then attended Bergin University of Canine Studies, earning a certification in Service Dog Education. While managing multiple Service Dog Training Programs, Kyria completed her Master’s Degree at Liberty University in Human Services - Marriage and Family Counseling, during which she assisted in the development of cutting-edge utilization of Psychiatric Service Dogs as adjunct therapeutic interventions with-in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy techniques. Currently, Kyria is the Program Director and Instructor of the University of North Carolina Wilming-ton Assistance Dog Training Program, the first and only comprehensive Assistance Dog academic certificate program at a state university. Most importantly dog mom to, Assistance Dog Ambassador and Demo Dog, WYATT, and her Search and Rescue Dog (In-Training) HOBBS.
SGT Jeff Mitchell USA (ret.) & AUSTIN
Jeff served two combat tours in Iraq with the 2/3 ACR in 2003 and 2005. He was medically retired from the Army with severe Complex Post Traumatic Stress. By 2009, he was desperate to find relief and began training with paws4vets. Because of the support of paws4vets and his Assistance Dog, AUSTIN, Jeff is now a Peer Mentor with paws4vets helping other veterans learn how to use their dog to help with their symptoms. He and AUSTIN also speak to groups about the mission of paws4vets and the value of Assistance Dogs to make a difference in the lives of those who have served. AUSTIN is Jeff’s second paws4vets Assistance Dog. His first dog, TAZIE, is enjoying her retirement and seems happy to let AUSTIN take over as Jeff’s partner. Jeff says that “AUSTIN is amazing, whenever I look at him, he always seems to be smiling. He is my light in darkness and is able to guide me to a better frame of mind.
Learn more at HeroesFirstFoundation.org and paws4people.org
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