DANVILLE — Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder tend to not be too crazy about crowds.
With a simple command, a service dog will stand between his master and anyone who might violate the veteran's personal space.
"The dog will get the veteran's attention when he is in the middle of a panic attack," said Mission K9 Warrior spokesman Dave Hughes. "The dog senses that and will redirect the veteran out of the panic attack.
"The dog will continue to bond with the veteran and pick up on more triggers. It's pretty incredible to watch."
These are just some of the reasons members of the American Legion Dornblaser Post 203 in Georgetown feel it's important to raise the funds needed to provide veterans with these companions.
Mission K9 Warrior's Annual Fundraiser is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Georgetown Fairgrounds Banquet Center.
It all began three years ago with the goal of purchasing just one dog. The group is hoping this event will pay for No. 11.
There will be no entrance fee as the food begins to be served and bidding begins on silent auctions at 5 p.m.
Hillbilly Deluxe takes the stage at 6 p.m., followed by American Pie.
The raffles — including for an AR-15 — and silent auctions end at 9 p.m.
A sure-to-be-popular piece is one from artist Jen Starwalt of California. There will be online bidding on this original piece.
The group also seeks donations of handcrafted, new items or art for the auctions.
A service dog can cost as much as $10,000. That sounds like a lot, but Hughes assured that the price is very good.
"That is about a third of what they actually cost," Hughes said. "Our trainer — Tony Piatt of Paw-a-day K9 Suites in Tilton — is a veteran himself. They give us a huge discounted price."
Veterans dealing with PTSD can go online to www.amlegion203il.org to apply to receive a dog of their own. Veterans need to click on the Mission K9 Warrior tab at the top of the page, and then scroll down to the bottom to find the application button.
Here all the qualifications can be found to be in the running for a future pup.
And while the community has been generous for the past few years, this year has seen two little girls set a new standard.
Lyana Munoz, 9, and Tobie Lyons of Westville sold hot chocolate at a yard sale with proceeds to benefit Mission K9 Warrior.
"People were giving some pretty good bills because of the cause," Hughes said. "They're just as cute as can be."
The girls will be in attendance at the fundraiser to surprise the group with what they were able to raise.
But whether the funds come in smaller increments, or from a family who wants to donate the entire cost of a dog — which has happened in the past — Mission K9 Warrior is sure the effort is worth the reward.
"It would be a blessing to get one dog," Hughes said with a laugh. "Two dogs would be just mind-blowing. But we just go one dog at a time."