Jim grew up in Columbus, Ohio living in an apartment above what was at that time one of the nation's biggest dog kennels. Jim’s father was the kennel manager, training instructor, and then became director of training at one of the oldest Guide dog schools in the country. Being raised by his parents with their passion for helping the blind, Jim always shared their love of dogs and compassion to help the disabled. Jim started training dogs at an early age under the guidance of his father and the other guide dog trainers. The majority of the trainers were Vietnam Veteran dog trainers and handlers. Jim joined the Air force in 1976 and worked as a crew chief. He was assigned to work on the U-2 and SR71 Blackbird while still training dogs. After his commitment to the Air force was finished, Jim started a dog training business and went to work for the same Guide dog school as his father. He did a three year apprenticeship and became certified as a guide dog trainer and he then placed many successful guide dog teams. One of the trainers left there to start what is now a major guide dog school in Florida. Eventually, Jim went there to help him set up a training program and then was named supervisor of training. Also, Jim set up an apprentice program while the school grew. Jim had also started his own dog training business where he trained basic through advanced obedience, behavior modification, specializing in aggression, tracking, competition (schutzhund, PSA), working with police K-9 units, certifying search and rescue teams, and he was an expert witness in dog related cases. Jim was approached to train service dogs for veterans from an Army liaison that took Senators on tours through Walter Reed Army Medical Center. From that, Jim started training service dogs for veterans at his own expense. He trained one of the first recognized service dog at Walter Reed. Jim went to a premier guide dog school in New York where they had recently began a service dog program for veterans and after being a lead trainer, he became the manager of the service dog program and doubled the placements. Jim received his ADI (Assistance Dogs International) certification. Now he is the founder of Southern Service Dogs Inc. in Georgia where he designed and built his own kennel and facility on 100 acres of land. Passionate and determined to help as many Vets and Dogs as possible.
We are a Veteran-run organization that believes in Vets helping Vets. Southern Service Dogs also trains service dogs for civilians who would benefit from their assistance. We have a common denominator, the love of dogs. Disabilities that qualify for a service animal can be physical, mental, and emotional and can often be a combination of the above.
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