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07 Apr 12 $155K chrome car and puppies aid wounded vets

PALMETTO, Fla. – Most veterans benefits don’t work quite like this: a car auction in Palm Beach, puppies in Palmetto and service for those who have served.

Doug Mansfield, a Sarasota businessman, offered his 2004 Mercedes Benz SL-600, with 12-cyclinders, a top speed of 200 mph, and a completely chrome exterior for auction, and promised to donate the proceeds to services for military benefits.

The car sold Thursday for $155,000.

Enter the puppies.

Mansfield designated some of the money for Southeastern Guide Dogs, a school in Palmetto that breeds, raises and trains dogs to work as guide dogs for visually impaired people. It runs a program called Paws for Patriots, which specifically tries to match dogs with wounded veterans.

They don’t have to be blind to benefit.

“We have programs that match veterans with dogs that can mitigate their symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” says Jennifer Bement, public relations specialist at the school.

About half the dogs that go through training do not become guide dogs.  Some end up as therapy dogs, either for individuals or at facilities such as VA hospitals.

The cost to raise, train and follow a dog through the course of its working life adds up to about $60,000.  People who get the dogs pay none of that.  Southeastern gets no public funding, Bement says, and relies on donations and grants to pay its expenses. When an unusual donation like this happens, the benefits can multiply.

“Just getting the exposure to a wider audience is fantastic for us,” says Bement.

ABC 7  tried to contact Mansfield Friday, but could not make contact.

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