Iowa-trained Service Dog Safe Following Shooting Incident

Wade Baker with service dog Honor, March 2012. PHOTO: © Paws & Effect

On Wed., Aug. 19, 2015 Paws & Effect was notified by canine I.D. chip-tracking vendor HomeAgain that its 6-year-old service dog, a black Labrador named "Honor," was recovered by law enforcement authorities in North Carolina. The dog is safe and healthy.

Established in 2006, Paws & Effect is a Des Moines, Iowa-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs.

According to law enforcement and media reports, Wade Allen Baker, 44, formerly of Marshalltown, Iowa, was involved in a Waynesville, N.C. church shooting incident that occurred on Wed., Aug. 19, 2015. Baker reportedly died during this incident.

Paws & Effect placed service dog "Honor" with Baker in March 2012, after he was referred by a treating physician at Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, Iowa. He attended an intensive 2-week dog handler training course in March 2012, and, like all Paws & Effect handlers, had regular follow-up communication with Paws & Effect regarding dog training and handling. While still located in Iowa, he occasionally assisted with Paws & Effect's efforts to educate the public regarding service dog use and access.

According to Baker's service record, he served in the U.S. Army from approximately August 1989 to November 1998. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was mechanized infantryman, and he received an honorable discharge. His military awards include the following, as well as others:

  • Army Commendation Award (2nd award)
  • Army Achievement Medal
  • Joint Meritorious Unit Service Award
  • Good Conduct Medal (3rd award)
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Southwest Asia Service Medal with 3 Bronze Service Star
  • Armed Forces Service Medal
  • Overseas Service Ribbon
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
  • Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)

Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate, along with the non-profit's board of directors, worked with North Carolina agencies to ensure safe return of Honor to the Baker family. "The loss of life of this veteran is tragic and devastating for his family. We are thankful that there was reportedly no further injury or loss of life to law enforcement and the public. Service dog Honor has been returned to the family to continue in his roles of stress reducer, supporter, and loved family member."

New Television Spot on Service Dogs, PTSD to Air

Paws & Effect - PSA 6 - "Home" from The Woods on Vimeo

A new Paws & Effect television spot will be aired by KCCI-TV in time for Veterans Day. The 30-second message, titled "Home," demonstrates how a psychiatric service dog helps his military-veteran handler navigate life with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.).

The message opens with footage of Iowa National Guard's 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division citizen-soldiers, returning from Afghanistan in 2011.

As part of the Central Iowa television station's public-service programming, the video clip will air on channels 8.1 and 8.2 starting Sat., Nov. 1. Beginning Nov. 22, the video will also be shown to "Hunger Games: Mockingjay" movie audiences at Century 20 Jordan Creek theater, West Des Moines.

The video can also be viewed on-line via Vimeo at link here, and above in this post.

Established in 2006, the Des Moines, Iowa-based Paws & Effect is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. The organization also trains therapy animals and hosts dog-agility events.

The non-profit has a history of engaging and educating its communities about service animal topics, including an award-winning series of five televised messages in 2011. All of television messages have been written and produced by Todd Cerveris of The Woods production company, New York City.

"This was by far the most challenging public service announcement we've made," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "The first scene was filmed in Johnston, Iowa, at a homecoming ceremony for Iowa National Guard soldiers [...]. That moment, when troops are dismissed to see their family and friends, is incredibly emotional."

"Putting words to the experience of returning from combat, of explaining PTSD, it strained each of us personally and took a toll on our friendships," she says. "There is an honesty and integrity present here that reaches far beyond anything we have done before."

Behind the Scenes: When Dogs Train to Fly

See the recent KCCI-TV report here.

Today's air travelers know to anticipate such stresses as cramped conditions, long lines, and weather delays. That's why service-animal trainers work with airline and airport personnel to ensure that working dogs are prepped and ready for take-off.

As specified by the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (A.C.A.A.) , service animals may accompany their handlers in airports and on flights. As working animals, service dogs are trained to assist individual handlers with specific physical tasks, in order to mitigate physical or mental conditions. Under the access law, handlers are not charged extra for having their service animals travel with them.

Recently, a group of military veterans working with Paws & Effect, a Central Iowa non-profit that trains mobility and other service animals, were featured in a news report on KCCI-TV, Des Moines. In the report, the veterans and their new dogs are shown successfully negotiating an obstacle course of security baggage checks and boarding procedures.

Personnel from the Des Moines International Airport and Frontier Airlines also assisted in the training event.

Just as in other public settings, fellow travelers can help dog-handlers and animals by knowing about access laws, and not distracting handlers and animals while they are working. Dogs are trained to place themselves under seats, in order to keep aisles and exits clear.

Although there is no such thing as a service-animal "license," Paws & Effect also trains handlers to travel with documents regarding the health and safety of their animals. Information on the state of Iowa's "certificate of veterinary inspection," for example, includes identifying information such as microchip number, and vaccination history.