Abandoned dog finds new home helping combat veterans
Santa Cruz Sentinel
By Terri Morgan
LIVE OAK -- An abandoned 5-year-old cocker spaniel has found a new home and a new purpose in life helping military combat veterans recover from post traumatic stress disorder.
Laddie was adopted recently out of the Santa Cruz SPCA to serve as the house therapy dog at the Paget Center. The 12-bed residential facility helps homeless vets recover from their traumas and transition back into civilian life after serving on the battle field. The gentle, people-pleasing pooch immediately had a positive impact on residents.
"The mood in the house is lighter," said Lino Montes, the manager at Paget Center. "People who were withdrawn are coming out of their shells. They're taking an interest in walking and feeding him. It's amazing to see the transformation."
Laddie languished at the SPCA for months because he doesn't get along with other dogs. But when it comes to humans, he offers nothing but love and support. He has the run of the house at his new home, a large fenced in yard to play in, and has an uncanny knack for detecting when individuals need comfort.
"If he sees you're upset, he puts his head on your lap," Montes said.
The Paget Center is staffed by veterans who have been affected with PTSD, and understand the many challenges combat vets face.
Funded by the Veteran's Administration, the house operates under the auspices of Front Street Inc., a behavioral health agency, and provides 90 days of emergency shelter for homeless vets and a host of services. Along with individual counseling and group therapy, the Paget Center also helps veterans find jobs, housing and provides other services to help them re-engage with society.
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