Smoky Mountain Service Dogs
Stop by any of our locations and donate to help Smoky Mountain Service Dogs achieve their goal. With your help, we can enable them to continue their invaluable work.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
These are the inalienable rights that we enjoy as citizens of the United States—and that the brave men and women of our military fearlessly defend. For those veterans who have fought for our freedom and suffered debilitating injuries in the line of duty, Smoky Mountain Service Dogs stands ready to give back.
Founded in 2011, SMSD is able to provide custom trained mobility assistance dogs to severely wounded veterans. The training for these dogs is intensive, and expensive. 1,800+ hours and upwards of $22,000 is required to fully and properly train just one assistance dog.
Charity that hits close to home.
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs is based in Lenior City Tennessee, and provides the perfect outlet for Weigel’s to help within our local community. SMSD currently operates out of a 10-acre site, that simply has a small kennel and the caretakers home. The More Wags for Warriors Campaign has a goal of funding a much larger training facility, so they can better serve more veterans. Volunteer Chair, Mike Kitchens elaborates: “The new facility would not only provide us the capacity for additional dogs, but give us a place to train our veterans. And that will allow us to double the number of dogs that we can provide to our area’s severely wounded veterans”
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs Mission
To Enhance the Physical and Psychological
Quality Of Life for Veterans with
Disabilities by Providing Custom-Trained,
Mobility-Assistance Service Dogs
(at no cost to the veteran)
Giving Wounded Warriors a Fighting Chance
Jason Ehrhart, three months into a tour of duty in Iraq, was in a Humvee that took a direct hit from two mines. Jason was severley injured with a TBI (Tramatic Brain Injury) and feared he would never be able to leave the Veterans Administration hospital.
With the help of Freedom, Jason’s service dog, Jason is able to live at home with his family. His mother, Pam has noticed the positive changes that Freedom was able to facilitate with Jason. “Speaking as a mother, I have felt comfortable leaving Jason alone for a couple of hours knowing that Freedom is with him,” Pam said. “That alone has made a huge difference. Jason now argues about going out with us, preferring to be home alone. His sense of independence and responsibility has grown in a very short time.”
Freedom has also helped Jason overcome some seemingly insurmountable medical odds. Freedom has taken Jason’s doctors’ expectations to a whole new level. His neuropsychiatrist, for one, was extremely impressed with Jason’s progress and his enthusiasm about Freedom. Without his dog Freedom, Jason may have never been able to get to his current state of recovery.
Passing of the Leash
The most moving – but also the hardest – part comes during the “Passing of the Leash” ceremony. With hardly a dry eye in the crowd, the service dog and veteran both appear as a symbol of the completion of both of their training and preparation. The leash is then passed from the trainer to the dogs “forever” partner. In this beautiful celebration, hundreds of supporters come out to honor the veteran and their service, and countless individuals and organizations pitch in to make the ceremony a wonderful start to the better life of the veteran.