Veterans get acquainted with their new service dogs

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Local veterans took a trip to shop for — and with — their new therapy dogs.

The dogs were provided to these veterans through the Wounded Heroes Fund. Normally, a service dog like theirs would cost anywhere between $15,000 and $35,000, but are provided for free to the veterans.

The pups will provide them the support and comfort needed to return to civilian life.

Julio Torres, a veteran himself, has dedicated his life to helping other veterans with their service dogs after falling on hard times in his return from combat.

“Five years ago I was in the same spot. I felt distant from reality basically,” he said. 

“Everybody was my enemy. I was a heavy drinker. I went through everything these veterans go through until I got paired with my service dog Zeus and he changed my life around.”

On Thursday, Torres helped three local veterans shop for their new service dogs.

“Veterans deserve a second chance. They need that life-long friend that is going to be there for them and understand everything that they’re going through and that they’ll never turn their backs on them,” he said.

Perry Finzel is a Marine Corps veteran who’s served two tours in Iraq. He’s a big fan of his service dog Luna.

“She’s very smart. That’s going to be a good and a bad thing. She’s extremely smart.”

Wounded Heroes Fund has paired 49 local veterans with service dogs with 12 new trainees this and many more to go.

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