By Leonard Rizzo
Over the years I’ve written many tales of service dogs and their value to us.
I still remember when the last 9/11 search and rescue dog passed on, I wept like a baby. There are tales of their dogs moaning to go back in even when their paws were all burnt and cut up.
At Fort Benning in Georgia, I witnessed the statue of two Sergeants that shared the Congressional Medal of Honor, one was Max the German Shepherd and the other was his handler and partner.
There was the story of the war dog whose soldier was blown up and the dog was found severely wounded, lying on him trying to protect him at all costs. The mother and brother of the deceased soldier tried for nearly two years to bring that dog home. Finally, after a little more than two years of begging, pleading and phone calls, Jake was mustered out and awarded to his soldier’s family to live out his life. Jake’s trip from Georgia to Tennessee was escorted every mile of the way by local police departments and an entourage of veterans on motorcycles that numbered in the hundreds when the trip was completed.
There are service dogs that help the blind, disabled and old folks in nursing homes and hospitals.
All are near and dear to my heart for they are most definitely a gift from God.
We have been losing over 20 veterans daily to suicide. When Linda Williams and Ann Goodheart began the Service Animal Project, I offered whatever I could do to help. They were quickly overwhelmed for the need for these service animals that far exceeded their ability to produce them.
Costs and training are not only expensive, but time consuming.
A few years ago, they teamed up with Bill Brightman and now operate under the name Service dogs for veterans or SD4V. Of all the rescues I work with and they all are precious to me, SD4V is nearest to my heart. Twice a year and sometimes more, I offer a check from Lennie’s Fund Inc. to this wonderful organization. The checks are delivered during my yearly Gala for rescues and the Animal Fair. Besides Linda and Ann, I have gotten to know Bill very well, along with many heroes, both canine and human.
Due to the Corona virus, both these great fundraisers have been cancelled this year. At the end of July, I will be sending $1,000 to SD4V. If anyone wishes to contribute, let me know. My address is Lennie’s Kids, 245 Ioka Hills Rd. Columbus, N.C. 28722.
These wonderful animals help save lives. Here is of two of my friends, Tim the soldier and Marl, his loving partner.
Thanks for listening.