How a shelter dog is helping a military vet adjust to life back home.
This is Tiger. And every day is his lucky day.
The happy, social pup was adopted from a shelter in Georgia. Plucked from the bunch for his high energy and social skills, Tiger was granted a new "leash" on life as a service dog because Angela knew he'd be perfect.
This is Tiger's human, Angela Simpson. Since meeting Tiger, every day's been her lucky day too.
While in the Army, Simpson served in the Iraq War. As a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the mother of three suffered from crippling anxiety attacks when in public or around too many people. It was a lonely, difficult life.
But now that she's paired with Tiger, the trained dog can tell when she's stressed or panicked and can lead her away or calm her down during triggering situations.
Tiger's skills, companionship, and high-energy disposition were a winning combo to Angela and have opened up a world of opportunity for her and her family.
Simpson and Tiger were brought together through One Warrior Won, a nonprofit that provides service members with support for PTSD.
Approximately 18 to 22 military veterans commit suicide each day, though the number can be higher or lower for specific population of veterans. But no matter how you look at it, it's the very definition of a crisis.
And with more than 3,000 dogs euthanized in the U.S. each day, the volunteers at One Warrior Won saw an opportunity to save dogs, train them for service, and in turn, save veterans.
One Warrior Won has rescued, trained, and placed over a dozen service dogs with military vets around the country.
These dogs can be a big help to people living with PTSD.
Dogs like Tiger can be trained to monitor breathing and heart rate and recognize panic attacks or night terrors before they start. The dogs also provide unconditional support and companionship, something many people with PTSD long for.
"So many veterans are isolated and withdrawn when they return," said Army Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan in an interview with Time. "A dog is a way to reconnect, without fear of judgment or misunderstanding."
For vets in crisis, these animals are living, breathing medicine.
Not only is the treatment compassionate, it's effective.
Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, another group that trains dogs for military vets, reports that their recipients have a zero rate of suicide attempt or divorce after being paired with a service dog.
But while Veterans Affairs provides service dogs to veterans with specific physical disabilities, they do not provide them to vets with mental health disorders, citing a lack of scientific evidence regarding their effectiveness.
Without Veterans Health Administration funds, vets are left to secure service dogs on their own. Luckily organizations like One Warrior Won, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, and K9s for Warriors pair veterans with these rescued service dogs free of charge.
Simpson and Tiger's lives are changed for the better.
But they're just one of the many success stories, all made possible by dozens of helpful people who were willing to give a dog, and a service vet, a second chance at a rewarding life.
Searching for a pet to adopt can mean finding your perfect match. High-energy, quick thinking dogs like Tiger have been invaluable to these vets needing support. A quick search on Petfinder might just help you find a companion who's right for you!