Southwest Florida veteran saved by golden retriever service dog named “Angel”

Reporter: Nicole Gabe
Published: Updated:

Do you believe in angels?

One Southwest Florida veteran says a golden retriever named “Angel” saved his life.

Only WINK News reporter Nicole Gabe met with the veteran to find out how “K-9’s for Warriors” changed his life for the better. Watch the full interview above.

Army veteran Joshua Turner recently returned home to Cape Coral with his new service dog, Angel. The Golden Retriever was trained to help Josh manage symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that resulted from his military service.

On why he applied for a K9s For Warriors service dog, Josh said, “I needed a push to make a positive change in my life. Having a four-legged friend gives me that positive change. A major plus is knowing someone is willing to give you unconditional love.”

Upon arrival to K9s For Warriors, Josh was paired with Angel, who had already completed formal service canine training in the months prior. Along with the other members of their class, the team trained in public every day, received instruction on matters of service dog access, dog health care and more, and established a bond that would facilitate Josh’s healing from the invisible wounds of war.

K9s For Warriors CEO, Rory Diamond, explains why the program is critical:

“There’s an epidemic of veteran suicide in our country. Service dogs are a proven method of alleviating the debilitating symptoms of PTSD – like suicidal ideation. They not only get our veterans back on their feet, but they also help them regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. Most veterans with PTSD think they’ve lost that forever.”

Speaking about the effect the program had on him, Josh said, “I was a lost, lonely soldier before receiving a blessing. That blessing came from K9s For Warriors. I am no longer lonely and lost, as I have a forever friend who has saved my life all because of K9s For Warriors.”

K9s For Warriors is a national nonprofit that takes eligible shelter dogs and trains them to be service dogs to mitigate symptoms of PTSD, Traumatic Brian Injury, and/or Military Sexual Trauma for post-9/11 servicemembers and veterans. It operates from two facilities in North Florida that perform the work of procuring and training the canines, pairing them with an incoming veteran, then training the veteran and canine pair together. After three weeks with his or her new service dog, the veteran has learned how to reintegrate into society and, most importantly, reduce suicidal ideation.

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