Local former drill sergeant helps provide service dogs for veterans and first responders

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - News 3 is on a mission to shine a spotlight on the owner of Mutts With A Mission, Brooke Corson.

Eleven years ago, the former Army drill sergeant started a training center, now located off High Street in Portsmouth. It provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with documented line of duty related disabilities.

Veterans, like former Marine Johnny Ayo are benefiting. He now has  Eclipse, a chocolate lab to help him, "Eclipse helps me in so many ways.  I have very little hand grip, so what does eclipse do? She opens doors for me; she opens cabinets, gets me water out of the fridge and yes only water!"

Eclipse also helps Ayo with mobility and balance issues, "When I go down the stairs she's sitting beside me, rubbing right on my leg making sure I don't fall."

There's an extensive two year training program for each dog, at the training center and out with the public, "Monday we went to the airport. Last week we were at the zoo, so we try to expose these dogs to everything.  They'll take the ferry, they'll ride the Tide--you name it, they'll do it before we place them with their veteran."

Corson, who's also a mother of two young boys, likes to credit others for how it all got started, "I mean we had donors, when the donors saw our need they stepped up." But it was Corson who got them to see that need, sparking the birth of this non-profit and over the years there have been numerous graduates from her training program.

Corson points out there have been donors, who come from all across the country.  On top of that Mutts With A Mission holds fundraisers and they apply for grants, because it cost from anywhere from 20 to 30-thousand dollars per dog to train them, at no cost to the veterans and first responders.

It was one of her employees, Becca Kalina who reached out to News 3 to acknowledge what Corson is doing, "She didn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk. If that isn't taking action, I don't know what is. She is amazing! Pick her."

And that's what  News 3 did, presenting Corson with a People Taking Action award, along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner Southern Bank.

If you'd like more information on Mutts With A Mission click here.

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