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A Second Chance For Shelter Dogs Helps Veterans

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Justin Bond and Boomer (credit: CBS)

Justin Bond and Boomer (credit: CBS)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Second chances make some of the most inspiring stories — especially when it’s man’s best friend that’s getting them.

Colorado nonprofit organization Freedom Service Dogs is giving those second chances to shelter dogs by training them to help people with disabilities.

“Dogs that are thrown away become heroes to other people,” Freedom Service Dogs COO Stacey Candella said.

Justin Bond fought in the Battle of Fallujah in 2004 and was shot through both knees. One of his legs has since been amputated and he will likely lose the other. Now he is one of many veterans waiting for his own service dog.

“I’ve met a lot of vets that have them and it’s changed their lives, so I’m super excited,” Bond said.

Each service dog takes about 7 to 12 months to train and costs about $25,000. When the process is over trainers say the dog often picks the person.

“It’s just so thrilling,” trainer Kate Dyson said. “It just happens, it’s like magic.”

Bond’s match was Boomer the Labrador. Boomer will help Justin open doors, retrieve items and even cope with night terrors.

“If you start to have the nightmares, flashbacks and night sweats, they come over and wake you up,” Bond said. “They sit there and lay there with you and you feel comfortable and calm and go back to sleep.”

Eighty veterans are currently on the waiting list for service dogs and it’s continuing to grow as more survivors like Bond return home. Now thanks to Bond, Boomer is a survivor too.

“We’re saving them and they’re saving someone else,” Bond said.

Dogs that don’t make it through the program will get adopted out. Freedom Service Dogs raises all their money from donations. Visit the Freedom Service Dogs website for more information.

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