Yaphank, NY – Members of the media are invited to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Yaphank on Monday, July 2, 2018 at 12:00 noon to see Rocky, a black Labrador from the organization Paws of War, greet Sheriff Toulon and an incarcerated veteran that will be training Rocky over the course of the next 8 weeks, twice a week, inside the county jail.
Following his training, Rocky will become a service-companion dog for another veteran, Harry Stolberg, who joined the United States Marine Corps in 1994 at the age of 17. Harry, a single father from Babylon, is currently undergoing treatment for PTSD at the VA Hospital in Northport. Harry connected with Rocky at a shelter, and will participate in training sessions on the outside with him over the course of the 8 weeks to ensure the relationship is a good fit.
Visuals: Rocky will be pulling into the jail’s parking lot at noon on July 2nd for his first day of training. Sheriff Toulon, along with staff from Paws of War, will escort Rocky into the Yaphank Jail to meet Jermaine, an incarcerated veteran who will be training Rocky over the next 8 weeks.
Location: 200 Suffolk Avenue, Yaphank, NY (Take Yaphank Avenue to Suffolk Avenue. Go past the Probation Department and follow the road to the end. Proceed past the security booth and look for the entrance to the jail near the gazebo.)
Sheriff Toulon invited Robert Misseri, co-founder of the non-profit organization Paws of War, to present at the last Sheriff’s Veterans Re-entry Task Force meeting held in April. Paws of War trains and places shelter dogs with U.S. military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war. The Sheriff was so impressed with the group’s track-record that he asked him to coordinate a program for veterans inside the Suffolk County Jail. The organization then began searching for the right dog to train as a service animal — and found Rocky at the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation. Staff from the Suffolk County Jail also had to identify an incarcerated veteran willing to take on the task of training Rocky twice a week with Paws of War program staff, and found a willing participant. Jermaine, a veteran who also suffers from PTSD, will be working with Rocky – and upon completion will earn a training certificate and possibly an opportunity to work for the organization when he is released next year. After 8 weeks, Harry Stolberg, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, will decide if Rocky is the right service dog to welcome into his family home.
Rocky, Jermaine and Harry’s journeys will be documented over the course of the next 8 weeks and shared for the public to see on the Instagram TV platform, and the Sheriff’s Office’s social media accounts, which are accessible on the Office’s website: SuffolkSheriff.com. The first broadcast will be up on July 4th.
About Rocky: Rocky is a friendly 2-year old black Labrador from the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation. He has had a rocky road — he was rescued from another shelter down south before being brought to Southampton. There were several adoption applications pending for Rocky, but each time, they fell through. He was picked up on June 25th by Paws of War to begin his new life as a service dog.
About our Veteran on the “outside”: Harry Stolberg joined the United States Marine Corps in 1994 at the age of 17. He served as a 0341 Mortarman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Heavy Weapons Company based out Camp Lejune, NC and also as Marine Security Guard with MCSFCO Bangor Washington. Harry was part of a rapid response team that responded to incidents in helping the government of Haiti and Africa. He then suffered a serious injury to right knee which led to the end of his military career. After the military, he studied to become a paramedic and spent the last 20 years working in NYC and Long Island. He is a single dad, and is being treated for PTSD at the VA hospital in Northport. Harry has fostered other veterans’ service dogs when they were in need. He also gives back to veterans who suffer from PTSD by organizing fishing trips, BBQ’s, outings and offers himself as a peer supporter.
About our veteran on the “inside”: Jermaine spent 10 years in the Army, rising to the level of Sergeant. After two tours in active combat, he returned to Suffolk County, Long Island. He believes that PTSD symptoms related to his combat experience led him down his current path. Jermaine has been participating in the Veterans Program Pod in the Yaphank Jail since January 2018 and is always eager to help his fellow Veterans. He is spending his days participating in rehabilitative programs and reflecting on his life. He loves dogs and can’t wait to help train Rocky. Most of all, he expressed how grateful he is to have the opportunity to help a fellow combat veteran and give back to the community.
About Paws of War, Inc.: Paws of War is a 501(c)(3) organization devoted to helping both animals and veterans. The stated mission of the non-profit organization Paws of War is to train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our U.S. military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war. In turn, each veteran can experience the therapeutic and unconditional love only a companion animal can bring. Learn more at www.pawsofwar.org.
The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing for the welfare of homeless throughout Eastern Long Island. SASF promotes and nourishes the bond between people and animals through adoption, education and community outreach. To learn more, please visit their website: www.southamptonanimalshelter.com.