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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

Service Dog United Moves into the Old Ashland County Dog Shelter Building

After being tagged in a Facebook post asking who was in the old Ashland County Dog Shelter building, I started digging to find out the details. And here's what I found: the new occupants are Service Dog United, formerly known as Buddy's Buddies, based in Polk, Ohio

Ian Robinson, a disabled veteran and Purple Heart recipient, paid a terrible cost during his service. Serving as a Crew Chief on F-16s, he suffered injuries from an explosion, leading to a re-classification of his job. It was during this time that Ian began working with the K9 unit towards the latter part of his service. Dealing with combat injuries and PTSD firsthand, Ian connected with a service dog fostering program before the pandemic. He soon discovered the incredible benefits of having a service dog and, in 2019, he adopted his loyal companion, Buddy.

Realizing the profound impact a service dog had on his own life, Ian knew he wanted to do more to support other veterans struggling with similar challenges. Thus, Buddy's Buddies was born in December 2022. Initially, a kennel facility in Polk, OH, Buddy's Buddies quickly evolved into a broader vision: Service Dog United (SDU).

Service Dog United (SDU) is a program that aims to provide service dogs to veterans, first responders, and Gold Star Families at zero cost to them. The organization recognizes the growing need for assistance among these individuals, particularly with combat injuries and PTSD. Alarmingly, 22 veterans lose their battle with PTSD and other mental-health related issues every day.

SDU has identified three core goals as part of their mission:

Reducing Affordability Barriers: The cost of training a properly trained service dog can be as high as $30-40k. However, SDU has managed to bring the cost down to approximately $10-15k per dog, making it more accessible to those in need.

Public Education: Service dogs exist in a gray area in ADA legislation. SDU aims to raise awareness and educate the public about service dogs and their purpose, ensuring that these incredible animals and their handlers are treated with the respect they deserve.

Accreditation and Training: SDU is on a mission to set the standard for responsibly breeding, training, and certifying service dogs. By documenting their processes, they aim to create a repeatable and sustainable model for the future.

Service Dog United is not just an organization run by Ian and Holli Robinson, but a true family affair. Their children, as well as close friends, are actively involved in the operations of the organization. Together, they work tirelessly to ensure that veterans and first responders receive the support they need through the loving and dedicated service dogs they provide.

Looking ahead, Service Dog United has a clear vision for their future. Their primary goals include:

Expanding Their Reach: SDU aims to extend their services to veterans in Ashland, Richland, and across the nation. By doing so, they hope to empower more individuals to overcome the challenges of combat injuries and PTSD.

Responsible Reproduction: To ensure the availability of reliable, healthy service dogs for generations to come, SDU is dedicated to responsible reproduction practices. By carefully selecting and breeding AKC registered Labrador Retrievers, they aim to maintain the highest standard of service dog quality.

Ongoing Training Support: Service dogs and their handlers require continuous training and support. SDU is committed to providing ongoing assistance to both the dogs and their human companions, ensuring that their bond remains strong and effective.

Legislation Advocacy: Recognizing the impact of legislation on veterans and service dog relationships, SDU aims to actively advocate for legislation that supports and protects their rights. They understand the importance of a strong legal framework to ensure the welfare of both veterans and their service dogs.

In conclusion, Service Dog United's move into the old Ashland County Dog Shelter building marks an important milestone in their mission to support veterans and first responders. With devoted founders, a clear vision, and a passion for making a difference, SDU is set to create a lasting impact on the lives of those who have dedicated themselves to serving others.


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