Shelter Dogs Get Second Chance At Life With Military Veteran Companions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For some returning veterans, normal moments in everyday life can be monumental challenges.

On Long Island, shelter dogs are being trained to serve those who have served the nation, giving both a second chance at life, CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported.

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CBS 2 was with Air Force veteran Jason Sexton when he met Jet, a 1-year-old lab mix rescued from a kill shelter, for the first time about a month ago. Since then, Jet has been by Sexton’s side as his service dog.

“I’ve been praying and hoping for this day,” he said.

Sexton spent 12 years on active duty, part of that time just outside of Afghanistan. He said civilian life has been more challenging than he expected since leaving the service two years ago.

“I realized things in my life were getting out of control,” he said.

So Sexton reached out to Paws for War — a Long Island shelter that places rescue dogs with veterans.

Training is still in the early stages, but Jet has already moved to protect Sexton against the piercing scream of a siren.

“We try to do it in a setting that’s a little loud. There’s a lot of things going on, distractions,” said Robert Misseri, president of Paws of War. “If Jason goes into a dark spot, Jet will be there, Jet will be pushing him.”

If you’re interested in helping place a dog with a veteran, click here.

A year in combat has turned civilian life into a frightening existence for Army veteran Scott Jernigan.

“It’s been rough for me,” he said. “I haven’t been to a restaurant in years. I think it’s more my anxiety, not knowing what’s going on around me. And now basically I have a battle buddy.”

His battle buddy is Dutchess, a 4-year-old Shepard rescued from a shelter.

“Normally, if I’m just standing in an open area like this, I’m always scanning. But I’ focusing on you guys because I know automatically she’s looking everywhere,” Jernigan said.

And now, with Dutchess by his side and support from the service dog team, Jernigan was finally able to venture into a restaurant.

As for Jet and Sexton, “He allows me to focus on life and getting back to what maybe normal life would be,” Sexton said.

Paws of War has placed more than 20 dogs with service veterans.

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