PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We all know dogs are known as “man’s best friend,” but for one organization hundreds of miles away, they’re becoming life savers.
They look like typical German Shepherds, playful and loyal. But these dogs are anything but ordinary.
They’re highly trained at a facility called, “Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs” in Williston, Florida. They’re taught to help people struggling with a wide range of mental and physical disabilities.
Bill Fennel, a Vietnam vet from Carnegie, knows just how special the dogs are. He was paired with “Faith” a few months ago.
“She takes all the commands that she learned for my PTSD and she wakes me up when I’m in a nightmare or a panic attack, she jumps on my bed and licks my face and everything,” Fennell said.
Fennel received the dog thanks to “Life Changing Service Dogs For Veterans,” an effort launched by Tony Accamando, a Vietnam vet. Almost a year ago, Accamando set out on a mission to raise nearly $500,000, enough money to pair 22 vets with dogs.
“Twenty-two is significant because unfortunately 22 veterans a day commit suicide and our hope is with 22 dogs being paired that we will have one day in the veteran community without suicide,” Accamando said.
Watch Tony Accamando and Bill Fennell’s appearance on Pittsburgh Today Live:
So far eight veterans have been paired and there’s funding for two more. PNC Bank has been a big supporter and now you can help.
The first annual community “Mutt Strut” is Saturday at Frick Park. The event promises to be packed with fun, including a dog parade.
“Often times, people want to do something to help veterans, they really do, but they just don’t know how and by giving to guardian angels medical service dogs, they’re able to reach out and help a veteran in a very meaningful way,” Accamando said.
You can find more information on the “Mutt Strut” on the Life Changing Service Dogs website here: http://lifechangingservicedogsforveterans.org/events/