PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He served and protected as a local police chief before losing his job and winding up behind bars.
But through the pain, Paul Anthony said he’s found a way to hit the reset button on his life.
It’s impossible to talk about Anthony’s journey without first meeting Finn.
With short, quick commands and perfect timing, it’s a synchronized dance between a man and his dog.
“For as many dogs as I have owned, he is by far the best dog I’ve ever owned in my life- for me,” Anthony said.
The duo is now ranked third in the world. The team recently competed overseas in an agility and obedience competition.
“The dog absolutely loves competition and he loves to train. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime dog,” Anthony said.
The duo has experienced the highest highs, but they’ve also weathered some of the lowest lows.
“I was the third police officer at Flight 427. I wasn’t on duty, wasn’t supposed to be there,” Anthony said.
But he knew what he had to do.
“I went up a logging road and what I saw from there was something I had never seen before,” Anthony said.
This year marks 25 years since the crash of Flight 427. One hundred and thirty-two people perished when the plane crashed into a field in Beaver County. Anthony said he felt like he died that day too.
“There’s things there that I witnessed that I’m never going to get out of my head,” Anthony said. “As a police officer, they’d ask you ‘are you doing OK?’ And you say ‘absolutely, nothing’s gonna bother us’ and it bothered me and that’s where the addiction came from.”
Anthony turned to cocaine to avoid sleeping and his terrible nightmares. He soon found himself in rehab, struggling with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He managed to fight his addiction and begin life again until one day in 2016.
“My son Michael passed away and he passed away from a heroin overdose,” Anthony said.
Anthony knew the struggle too well, but still couldn’t stop his son from the same mistake.
“We always look at it like ‘well, they were a junkie and they were a that’ but Michael was a loving son, a loving brother, nephew, friend, he was a normal kid,” he said.
Out of his heartache, sparked an idea: “Michael’s Mission.” A thriving dog-training business with specific clients in mind.
“Because of his death, we made a positive out of it,” Anthony said.
He trains dogs for people with autism or PTSD.
“People who have no other recourse because they’re afraid to talk to people, afraid to talk to the doctors, afraid to talk to their friends. That’s what we started Michael’s Mission for,” Anthony said.
A way to honor his personal struggle and the memory of Michael, through his love of Finn.
“It helps me, it relieves me and it’s like church to me,” Anthony said. “He’s gotten me through more things than I’ve helped him through.”
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