Carolina Canines gains national recognition

Source: Rick Hairston
Source: Rick Hairston
Rick Hairston
Rick Hairston

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Carolina Canines organization is being recognized nationally for its work with disabled veterans.

The organization has been providing service dogs to the disabled in our community for some time, but recently Carolina Canines went a step further by giving dogs to disabled veterans.

Carolina Canines founder Rick Hairston and his 2-year-old guide dog, Issac, traveled to Washington D.C. this week, where Hairston was presented with a $5,000 grant from the Fisher House Foundation and Newman's Own.

The organization was one of eleven picked to receive a grant, from a list over 100 agencies nationwide.  In one way or another, each provides help for veterans and their families.

"There are just different ways that ordinary people in the community can step up and take a leading role in ways that have never been done before," said Hairston.  "That's why Carolina Canines for Vets was chosen."

Carolina Canines for Vets started in 2008.  Guide dogs are trained my inmates at the Camp Lejeune Brig and then are given to wounded warriors.

Hairston said the highlight of the trip was being able to meet the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, as well as General George Casey.

"When you meet those types of people you can't help but be in awe," said Hairston.

The grant money will be used to provide the program at Camp Lejeune with dog food, vet care, and team training.

"all those things that cost money that we have to go out and find," said Hairston.  "That will go in order to offset the costs of the program."

Issac is the next dog on the list that will be given to a wounded veteran.  The type of service this lab can provide to the disabled is the key to gaining more national recognition.

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