Local, veteran-owned craft breweries and food vendors are coming together on Saturday to support and raise money for Vermont Paws and Boots with a “tap takeover.”

Vermont Paws and Boots is a non-profit by Michelle LeBlanc that partners rescue dogs with disabled veterans and first responders. The pairs train for nearly a year as the dog works to become a trained service animal at no cost to the individual. 

Completely pro bono, programs like LeBlanc’s are welcome news for veterans since post-traumatic stress disorder service dogs aren’t covered by insurance. Private services can charge up to $60,000 for the dog and its training, according to Paws and Stripes, a nonprofit organization. LeBlanc founded the program in 2015 with the help of the Essex Rotary Club, which donated money toward vet bills, training equipment and food for the first dog to graduate the program (The Reporter detailed her first class in 2016, profiling Essex resident Misha Pemble-Belkin).

The Aug. 24 event will run from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Essex VFW, located at 73 Pearl St. Vendors include 14th Star Brewing, 1st Republic Brewing, Kickback Brewing and Mark BBQ. Additional information about the Vermont Paws and Boots program can be found on their website, www.VermontPawsandBoots.org, or by contacting the program founder and K9 trainer Michelle LeBlanc at VermontPaws257@gmail.com.