SMITHTOWN, NY (WCBS 880) — America’s Vet Dogs are loyal and dependable guardians and protectors, just like the veterans whom they serve.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story
In 2005, Sgt. Tony Larson was severely injured in Iraq after an improvised explosive device exploded under his truck.
“I ended up having my right leg amputated below the knee,” said Larson, who served with the Minnesota National Guard.
Initially, he was unsteady on his prosthetic and used two canes. He was moving very slowly and was hunched over.
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Then he received Tomme, a black lab from America’s Vet Dogs in Smithtown.
“He can recognize the different pressure I put on him. So, if I start leaning away from him, he feels it pull up on his chest. So, he starts walking away from me to kind of pull me back over,” Larson told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “I went from walking with two canes to being able to walk down the street wearing shorts and people not even being able to tell I have a prosthetic leg on.”
Tomme can retrieve things, is good company, and has proven to be a life saver.
“He has more than once prevented me from committing suicide, and helped reverse the effects of flashbacks as I’m driving down the road. He crawls over the center console in my truck and lays his head in my lap saying that, you know, ‘You’re home. You’re safe.’ and it brings me out of those flashbacks,” he said.
There’s a waiting list for vet dogs, according to CEO Wells Jones.
“We are trying to grow the program and that is tough in this economic environment. We certainly need to continue to raise more funds so we can continue to serve more veterans,” said Jones, who notes that his organization survives on donations.
“We’re not just a guy and a dog. We’re a part of each other’s life,” said Larson.
A golf outing to raise funds for the organization was planned for August, but due to weather, has been postponed to October 11. It will take place at the Huntington Country Club in Huntington. For more information about this or about America’s Vet Dogs, call 866-VET-DOGS (866-838-3647).
Are you a veteran who has been helped by a dog or other animal? Share your story in the comments section below.