I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. I’d just hushed my alarm clock and turned on the television to learn a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Then I saw the live broadcast as the second airplane exploded into the other building.
Being a native Texan with little exposure to life on the east coast, I’d never met anyone directly affected by the horrific tragedy now known as 9/11. That was until a chilly November day in 2010 when I met an amazing woman, Cathy Carilli.
I was in Westchester, NY and decided to take advantage of a free pass to a cat show. I mentioned to one of the exhibitors that I was a freelance writer with a passion for writing about the ways that animals can help people and vice versa. “Then you MUST meet Cathy Carilli,” the exhibitor said. She called her friend over to meet me.
Cathy’s first husband, Tom Sinton, died in the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers. Or as Cathy calls it, “He was murdered along with 3,000 others.” She shared her story with me about her devastating loss, and how she was equally determined to do something to memorialize his death. In 2006 she founded The Tower of Hope, which raises funds to train service dogs for our returning disabled warriors.
These service dogs are provided free of charge to the selected individuals. It can cost more than $25,000 to train a single dog, yet it is priceless to the recipient. Each animal must be trained to support the needs of the specific person. The human/dog team work together to master the activities that most of us take for granted. Since a service dog’s “career” only averages eight years, a veteran will likely need a series of service companions.
Since 9/11, over 80,000 American troops have been wounded serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of those troops have either returned home with traumatic brain injuries, without limbs, or suffering from other catastrophic life-changing wounds that prevent them from performing normal daily activities. Contrary to popular belief, the Veterans’ Administration does not provide service dogs for our wounded warriors.
The Tower of Hope has provided over 40 service dogs since its inception, yet there are many people waiting for a dog who can give meaning and independence to their lives. Expanding on their original mission, The Tower of Hope also funds training dogs for civilians who are disabled or chronically ill. Their latest program provides dogs to children and young adults with autism, yet another group of people who benefit from a dog’s unconditional love.
You can help this wonderful organization by selecting Tower of Hope as your charity before shopping at AdoptAShelter.com. To learn more about The Tower of Hope, visit their website at www.thetowerofhope.org.
Category: Featured Shelter
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