Stiggy’s Dogs is a 501(c)(3) organization that rescues and trains shelter dogs to be psychiatric service dogs for military veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) or Traumatic Brain Injury (“TBI”). The psychiatric service dogs are trained and deployed at no cost to the veteran. Stiggy’s Dogs all pass the Canine Good Citizen ® Certification test and then are paired with their handlers for further training. Since each veteran has unique qualities and needs, each dog is individually trained to meet that veteran’s needs. Stiggy’s Dogs offers the veteran and dog pairing a lifetime of support after deployment.
Studies have shown that 1 in 8 soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq will have some symptoms of PTSD. Feelings of anxiety, depression and detachment make returning to civilian life difficult for these veterans. Those veterans living with TBI have their own unique needs. Studies have also shown that 82% of patients with PTSD who were assigned a service dog had a decrease in symptoms. This includes a decreased need for medication in 40% of the patients studied. There are an estimated five million dogs sitting in shelters across America, many of whom will be euthanized. Many of these dogs could make an excellent service dog for a veteran living with PTSD and/or TBI. By uniting the two, we are Rescuing One to Rescue Another.
Service Dogs are considered service dogs under the Americans with Disability Act, as amended, and are allowed entry into most public places that their handler may have to go. Service dogs are no different from prosthetic limbs as they are an extension of the handler. The relationship is constant and ongoing. Psychiatric Service Dogs are an alternative form of treatment that are to be used in conjunction with other treatments, not as a replacement for other treatments. They cannot cure all symptoms of PTSD or TBI, but they can make life easier for their handlers, especially in certain high stress situations.
HM3 Benjamin Phillip ("Doc Stiggy") Castiglione dedicated his life to preserving and improving the physical and emotional health of those serving in his unit, and all who serve. He gave his life working as a Corpsman in Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan, taking care of "his Marines" until September 3rd 2009. HM3 Benjamin "Doc Stiggy" Castiglione, was respected by his Marines and known for his determination, professionalism mixed with sharp wit. To his family he is remembered for his caring nature, his love for family and dogs. This organization, in memory of Doc Stiggy will honor him by 'Rescuing one to help rescue another.'
"The experiences and lessons I learned from working at a Humane Society, motivated my future. I have spent the past 4 years trying to make a difference. Dogs listen, love us unconditionally, are loyal and can be life saving. I am passionate about my goal of helping one dog at a time, and now one soldier and family at a time. I am proud to honor Ben and determined to carry on his legacy of helping others through Stiggys Dogs."