Our Mission & Story

Our Mission & Story 2018-03-09T08:47:45+00:00


To assist, employ, and empower veterans, active military, and first responders who have PTSD, TBI, and/or mobility limitations.  The training program trains amazing service dogs to greatly improve quality of life for each client.


Next Step supports courageous veterans, active military personnel, and first responders with PTSD, TBI and/or mobility limitations by giving them the tools to take the next steps forward in their lives by assisting in the training of amazing service dogs.

Next Step is reducing the surging demand for well-trained and effective service dogs by supporting clients in training their own dogs for service or by pairing them with suitable donated dogs to train. Additionally, Next Steps provides paying jobs and career opportunities to unemployed or underemployed veterans by teaching them to train service dogs for other veterans with invisible disabilities.

NSSD does not charge for service dogs or their training, and supports each service dog throughout its life.


sallyMontrucchioAfter training psychiatric service dogs for two years at Camp Pendleton’s Wounded Warrior Battalion, Sally Montrucchio was compelled to focus on helping these American heroes whose courage and despair touched her deeply.  In 2012 Sally founded Next Step Service Dogs, Inc. (“Next Step”) to implement a new flagship program to serve military men and women who would benefit from the use of a service dog for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), Traumatic Brain Injury (“TBI”), and mobility challenges, and also for those military men and women who would benefit from a career training service dogs for their fellow warriors.

Sally Montrucchio is our CEO/Training Director with the following expertise:

  • Over 20 years of experience in training service dogs for people with disabilities in San Diego County
  • Received a Red Cross Heroes Award, San Diego, 2015
  • Was previously the training director for Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dog, Inc. This training covered disciplines including Autism, PTSD/TBI, Seizure Response, Hearing, Mobility, Specialty (Balance, Tourette’s Syndrome, etc.) and Facility dogs (working with a school or hospital facility)
  • Provided PTSD service dog leadership at Assistance Dog International Conference, 2014
  • Published author of a book on dog behavior and temperaments
  • Expert witness in service dog court cases
  • Expert service dog speaker at national and international service dog conferences
  • Recipient of numerous awards and grants

Our men and women in uniform deserve the best tools we can give them. The service dogs greatly improve the veterans’ quality of life, independence, and the sense of being unconditionally loved, respected and protected by a service dog buddy.