Veterans Day

Operation Freedom Paws Helps Veterans Train Their Own Service Dogs

NBC Universal, Inc.

A local group in the South Bay is deploying man's best friend to help the men and women who gave their all for this country.

Operation Freedom Paws in San Martin pairs rescue dogs with veterans suffering from post traumatic stress or other ailments.

For 48 weeks, the veteran learns how to train their dog to become a personal service animal that will help guide the owner out of situations that trigger bad memories.

"If it wasn’t for OFP, especially with COVID and quarantine, I’ll tell you right now, honestly sir, they saved my life," said Chau Pham, a U.S. Army veteran and owner of Apollo. "Just Apollo saved my life. I had a really rough year. This program has kept me on an even keel and reminded me of the important things in life. And I wouldn’t be right here right now if it wasn’t for them."

Mary Cortani, who trained dogs during her service in the Army, founded Operation Freedom Paws in 2010. Since then, the nonprofit has helped more than 350 veterans.

But the organization could use help during the COVID-19 pandemic. To donate or find more information, visit

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