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Minnesota National Guard
America's Vet Dogs Are More Than Just Man's Best Friend

September 12, 2011 9:31 AM
credit: America's Vet Dogs)
(credit: America's Vet Dogs)

Reporting Sean Adams

SMITHTOWN, NY (WCBS 880) " America's Vet Dogs are loyal and dependable guardians and protectors, just like the veterans whom they serve

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

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

Stories From Main Street: Americas Vet Dogs Are More Than Just  Mans Best Friend
Sgt Tony Larson with Tomme (credit: Minnesota National Guard)

LINK: America's Vet Dogs (Official Site)

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)

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