Kristen Dragotto, Staff Writer

Chances are if you have been on this campus at least a semester you have seen Babe. Babe is the unofficial Veteran Center mascot and service animal for Navy and Army Veteran Bill Schnarr, sophomore, sociology.

Babe is a service animal that has been trained to help those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Though at first glance she may not seem like your typical service animal because she is an American Fox Hound and Great Pyrenees mix, she is the perfect fit for Schnarr.

Babe was rescued by the Humane Society and then trained in a prison program located in Savannah, Georgia. Aside from her training, it is her loving personality that make her perfect for the job she has been given.

According to the United States Service Dog website, some tasks these service dogs can perform are alerting the handler when their cortisol levels or blood pressure becomes high, to interrupt when their handler is having a flashback or a nightmare. They can also be trained to provide crowd control for their owner, for example if the owner was having a panic attack the dog would lead them out of the crowded area into a quieter area. The dog can also guide them out of stressful situations which can act as triggers to the owner like a siren.

For all dog lovers on campus it is important to keep in mind Babe is there for a reason.

Schnarr stated, “She is a working dog and that is something to keep in mind.”

Though seeing Babe can be exciting for all the animal lovers on campus, it’s important to remember she is there to work. If you distract her or try to get her attention it prevents her from being able to do her job properly. But dog lovers, no need to worry, Babe gets plenty of love from her family at home and from the other Veterans on campus who are in the Veteran Center.

Aside from being the unofficial mascot for the Veterans Center, Babe is also the first service animal for a Veteran on UMSL’s campus and an honorary member of the American Legion Axillary, an organization that helps female Veterans transition back into civilian life. It was founded in 1919 and its headquarters is located in Indianapolis, Ind.

At the age of 10, Babe’s career is winding down as she is scheduled to retire within the next year.

According to Schnarr, her life after retirement, “Will be her enjoying life at home just being a dog.” Schnarr is currently working with a four-month-old German Shephard named Ivan who will take over once Babe retires, who has left some big paws to fill.

If you or someone you know is a Veteran struggling with PTSD or needs assistance, there are resources out there. Programs like the Wounded Warrior Project, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Suicide Hotline are designed to help those in need. The programs listed above can be contacted through their websites and they list their information which can be found on their home pages. The suicide hotline number is 1 800-273-8255.