WAT-CAST: Shannon Walker Talks About Northwest Battle Buddies, Service Dogs, and Helping Veterans

On January 28, a woman was not allowed to board a United Airlines flight from Newark to Los Angeles with her emotional support animal, a Peacock named Derek. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. (No one has attempted to board with a camel yet, but who knows?) According to an article in USA Today, the number of comfort animals flying on United jumped from 43,000 in 2016 to 76,000 last year, prompting an avalanche of complaints from passengers.  United and other airlines will now require additional documentation for customers traveling with an emotional support animal or a psychiatric service animal. In addition to providing a letter from a licensed medical/mental health professional, customers will need to provide a veterinary health form documenting the health and vaccination records for the animal as well as confirming that the animal has been trained to behave properly in a public setting. (There have been reports of passengers being bitten by so-called emotional support animals.)

What’s getting lost in all this is that many people who need service and emotional support animals, primarily our veterans, are running into discrimination. Shannon Walker heads up Northwest Battle Buddies, a nonprofit that provides free service dogs for veterans with PTSD. These dogs are professionally trained and gifted to combat veterans at no charge. Shannon talks with Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti about Northwest Battle Buddies, the differences between actual service dogs, and what needs to be done to clear up the public’s confusion. Click to listen.

For more information and to donate to Northwest Battle Buddies, go to the organization’s website and Facebook page. 

Shannon Walker’s photo courtesy of Northwest Battle Buddies.

About Charlene Giannetti (665 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.