After serving in the US Army for over a decade and reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant, Michael was medically retired in 2016. As his time in service came to an end, he spent 18 months in the hospital at Walter Reed, recovering from his own wounds of war, where he first hand witnessed the struggles veterans were experiencing. This resulted in his future motivation and ambition to be focused on serving his fellow veterans. Michael’s passion to continue serving flourished and he has been dedicated to supporting veterans through animal assisted service and mental health ever since.
Upon his retirement, Michael attended Animal Behavior College while working for two organizations certified by Assistance Dogs International.
In 2018, Michael went full time with his canine training business, Colorado K9 Company, formally known as Connors K9 Academy, with the goal of providing professional service dogs to veterans in need. Michael helped in establishing another organization for veterans, bringing not only immense knowledge and skill to the training aspect of assistance animals but also the leadership and dedication to serving the veteran community.
As a disabled veteran who knows the struggles personally that those transitioning out of the military face, Michael felt the desire to do more in service to his fellow brothers and sisters. In 2022, Michael created a program through Colorado K9 Company to serve veterans through the procurement of professional custom service dogs. That program quickly became the 501c3 nonprofit organization that PAWS has become today.
When Michael was at his lowest in the hospital, he was introduced to a program where veterans learn to train service dogs for other veterans. This program saved his life when one of the dogs in the program actually prevented his own suicide attempt.
Gunner has been serving as both the organization's ambassadog and an organization therapy dog over the last 3 years.
He's a joyful loving pup that has been an essential asset to our organization through our development.
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