What we do...
Operation At Ease takes dogs from shelters, pairs them with deserving veterans and first responders and provides a free guided training program for post traumatic stress and light mobility service dogs. Obedience skills and task training are held in small group classes of two to four teams to ensure optimal learning through one on one instruction. We also work throughout the Capital District making sure our teams know the proper way to utilize the tasks taught in real life situations; as well as have the confidence, knowledge and ability to advocate for themselves when needed.
Classes are held at our training facility in Rotterdam, NY and run once a week for a period of eight months. At the completion of our program the dogs and their handlers have been tested two times through the American Kennel Club and have passed their public access test. While under the Americans With Disabilities Act service dogs are not required to be licensed, registered or certified through any organization we feel strongly that it is our obligation to make sure we provide quality instruction and uphold the integrity of what a service dog is. Behavioral support is available for the life of the dog at no charge.
Unfortunately it is a long held belief in our society that post traumatic stress is a disorder. At OAE we are working hard to stop the stigma associated with trauma and invisible wounds through outreach and community events. With proper treatment and intervention injuries can heal.
We look forward to serving those who have served our country and our community. Veterans or First Responders apply here.
Our founder Joni Bonilla
For the past twenty years I have known and loved two things; dogs and the military community. Being a military spouse has provided me the opportunity to know first hand the daily struggles that this awesome demographic of people face.
In 2015 a friend of mine who is a four time combat veteran lost his pet dog suddenly and he greatly struggled with the loss. He spoke to me about the many ways she enriched his life since retiring from the Army and how she was a prominent influence in him integrating back to civilian society. Upon looking for a service dog for him I was met with politics, hefty price tags and long waiting lists. Because of this Operation at Ease was born.
I have been working, training and rehabilitating shelter dogs for over twenty years. I have a degree in Animal Care, I am an evaluator with the American Kennel Club (as are many of our staff members) and continue to maintain my education with current methods by regularly attending seminars and conferences. OAE is staffed only with professional trainers who have a minimum of ten years experience, outside continuing education and first hand knowledge of the community of people that we serve. Not only are we dog trainers, we are spouses of veterans, spouses of police officers, we are veterans and first responders ourselves. Because of this, our work isn’t something that we do because we have always loved dogs, it’s something we do because we have skin in the game.