For Immediate Release

September 18, 2014

Contact: Tammy Sharp

Media Relations




Leesville Mayor Meets with Veteran, Service Dog 

LEESVILLE- Leesville Mayor Rick Allen took a few moments this week to meet with veteran Rich McCord and his service dog, Penny.


McCord, who did four tours of duty in Iraq beginning with Desert Storm, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as traumatic brain injury (TBI). Penny helps him cope with the symptoms of both.  Both conditions cause high anxiety and panic attacks, among other symptoms, while TBI also causes tunnel vision. Penny can sense physiological changes in her master and then take steps to offset their effects.

From left to right: Leesville Mayor Rick Allen and Penny the service dog get to know one another. Penny's owner, Rich McCord, and his wife, Ann, look on.


For instance, during a trip to the Alexandria Mall the week before Christmas last year, McCord was overwhelmed by the crowds. Penny, without McCord realizing what she was doing, led McCord out of the mall when she sensed a change in him.


"I thought she was taking me outside because she needed to go to the bathroom," he said.

Once they were outside, McCord realized that his heart rate had increased and that Penny's goal had been simply to remove him from the situation.


McCord also gets tunnel vision at times, which can be very dangerous, especially if he's driving. Once, Penny nudged him to get his attention while he was driving and as he glanced over, McCord realized that he'd lost his peripheral vision. He was able to pull over immediately and wait the symptoms out.


Penny, who has been a member of McCord's family since she was a pup, was trained by Brothers and Sisters In Arms Dog Training, a nonprofit which has a location at Speech-Language Consulting Services in Leesville.


"We provide the training of service dogs, all within the guidelines designated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to active duty military and veterans suffering from PTSD/PTSS, TBI or military sexual trauma (MST)," said McCord, who retires officially from the military in October and has begun working more with the group.   


The nonprofit provides the services free of charge to veterans, active duty and special needs families and work with a person's dog, if possible, or choose a dog from a local animal shelter or rescue.


For more information about the Brothers and Sisters In Arms Dog Training, call Phil Ruddock at 337-581-9098 or Speech-Language Consulting Services at 337-238-5574.


The City of Leesville, the best hometown in the world, is a historic yet visionary community. As the parish seat of Vernon Parish, where Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center are located, the City of Leesville is home to military families, retired veterans and a growing and strongly patriotic citizenry that provides the basis of a well-rounded and work-ready workforce.   


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