Lending Veterans a Helping Paw

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RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Like many veterans, George Gomez’s time in Iraq is difficult to forget.

“I had just finished one of our missions where we burn down brush just to keep any insurgents from looking into our location,” Gomez recalled. “Right as I was getting into the truck, we received sniper fire and I got shot in the back of the leg.”

While the former marine’s leg has healed since the 2006 incident, Gomez still suffers from other effects of the war.

“The PTSD doesn’t go away,” Gomez said. “It still feels like yesterday at some points.”

However, thanks to his new four-legged friend Trinity, Gomez’s life has become a little easier.”

“Just her presence is a stress reliever,” Gomez explained.

Gomez received Trinity earlier this year through Pets for Vets, an organization that pairs rescue animals with veterans.

“Their physical presence near you it makes you happy,” said Didi Tulloch, the coordinator of the Pets for Vets chapter in Connecticut. “You see a dog or you see a cat and it brings a smile to your face.”

In Connecticut, Pets for Vets is based out of the Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue (ROAR). Tulloch says before dogs there are adopted out, they work with a trainer to learn good manners as well as how to react to panic or anxiety disorders.

“The veterans do not pick out a dog, because shelter dogs, they’re everywhere, but to find the dog with the right temperament, disposition, personality, that is where our trainers come into play,” Tulloch explained.

Once a dog has been trained, they’re then placed in foster care for four to six weeks to ensure they’re ready for their new home.

“When we are ready to adopt out our dog to a veteran, we want to try to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, take out as much stress as possible,” Tulloch said.

When a match is finally made, the bond between a veteran and their new pet is undeniable.

The dogs seem to know that this is what they’re supposed to do and they sense the veterans need, and this connection becomes so strong,” Tulloch explained.

For Gomez, there’s no doubt that trinity has had an impact on his life.

“I have seen a difference in my PTSD,” he explained. “My temper has been controlled. I’m not taking as much medication, but my stress level has gone down significantly.”

Trinity is surely a dog that’s giving new meaning to the term man’s best friend. For more information about Pets for Vets, visit PetsForVets.com or ROAR-Ridgefield.org.

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