Durham, N.C. — A wagging tail, wet nose and warm heart can do wonders for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, at least according to a local group that's pairing American heroes with man's best friend.
Ronnie Sadoski started Wags 4 Tags to help veterans suffering from PTSD deal with the psychological trauma they face every day.
"They have nightmares at night. They sweat at night. They don't like crowded places. They won't go into the mall," said Sadoski, who is himself a retired serviceman with PTSD.
Dogs paired with soldiers or veterans suffering from PTSD, physical injuries or other serious ailments have special training to meet their human's emotional and psychological needs. The group rescues the dogs from area animal shelters.
"You can take all the medication you want. You can go to all the counseling, but having a dog is just another piece that helps finish the puzzle," Sadoski said.
It worked for veteran Josh Herrick, who had difficulty adjusting to family life back after the stress of combat overseas. A dog named Koda helped him regain some normalcy and spend more time with his wife and daughters.
"About six months after my third tour, I didn't go anywhere. I didn't even go to Walmart," Herrick said. "(Koda helped) get me from my cocoon that I made up of not wanting to leave home."