Local News

Service dogs help wounded soldiers cope

Posted October 1, 2011 11:29 p.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2011 11:43 p.m. EDT

— A local group is honoring soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice by helping their wounded comrades cope with the anguish of war.

The Carolina Patriot Rovers provide therapy dogs – named after fallen soldiers – to service members with psychological trauma. During a bike rally Saturday to raise money for the group, Todd and Virginia O'Leary, of Wake Forest, met Dan-O, the golden retriever named after their son, Daniel, who was killed in Iraq.

"Things like this make it good, kind of keeps the memory alive," Todd O'Leary said. 

He's excited for Dan-O to be placed with a soldier in need.

"Maybe we can get in a little relationship with that soldier and explain who Danny was," he said. "It will be good."

So far, the group has given 12 trained dogs to war veterans like Travis Peele, who suffers from a brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. 

"We rode around looking for roadside bombs. That was the No. 1 killer. We had to go find them and get rid of them," Peele said about his mission overseas.

His service dog, named Deuce, helps him cope, he said.

"He'll lay his head on my shoulder to just calm me down," Peele said. "He can tell when I am getting upset, getting a little anxious."

Proceeds from the bike rally fundraiser will go toward the dogs' food, housing, training and veterinary care. It takes six to 12 months to train each dog, the group said.