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During their Jan. 22 meeting, the Buena Vista Board of Trustees heard a presentation from Marianne Maes; the CEO and founder of PAWS for LEOs (Law enforcement officers). As a gesture to the town, its LEOs and first responders, Maes donated a service puppy to the town on behalf of PAWS for LEO.

The non-profit organization trains service dogs to aid injured law enforcement officers and first responders in recovering from their injuries; both physical and mental. That includes training service dogs to help with mobility, and serve those with traumatic brain injuries, and post traumatic stress disorder.

Maes started PAWS for LEOs after sustaining extensive injuries while serving in the United States Air Force. She suffered severe PTSD from her injuries, and utilized a trained service dog to help her recover.

“My life was completely turned around by my service dog,” Maes told the Board of Trustees.

Based in Buena Vista, Colorado, Maes says PAWS for LEOs wants to give back to the community and to the law enforcement officers, first responders, and search and rescue workers that so often work with little recognition.

“There is a need,” Maes told the trustees. “There is little out there to help the people who serve us every day.”

The estimated cost of a trained service dog is between $25,000 and $50,000. PAWS for LEOs did not request funds in any way in exchange for their donation of a service dog to the community.

The puppy will stay with PAWS for LEOs until a handler is adequately trained to care for the dog on behalf of the town of Buena Vista. When needed, the service dog will be donated to an injured Buena Vista law enforcement officer or first responder.

If no need for the service dog arises within the next two to three years, then the dog will be moved to another area within the state of Colorado where there is a need and can best serve. In this circumstance, another service dog would be given to Buena Vista to fill another potential need.

When questioned whether this amount of moving would place stress on the animal, Maes quickly reminded the board that service dogs are working dogs, and are at their best when serving a need.

Still, Maes assured the board that PAWS for LEOs would never remove an animal that is serving a need.

“Our organization would never pull an animal back from a service position.” Maes said. “Once in a service position that dog is part of that family now.”

Mayor Duff Lacy quickly expressed his support. “I think it is a wonderful program” he said after Maes concluded her presentation.

Lacy instructed town administrator Phil Puckett to compose a letter of support on behalf of the Town of Buena Vista declaring its support for PAWS for LEOs.

Find our more about PAWS for LEOs.