Join me tomorrow as I welcome to Chicago two military veterans who are on a cross-country quest, dubbed “Operation Keep Your Spanky,” to raise awareness and funds for a program that provides resources, pet food and low cost veterinary care so military families and veterans can keep their beloved and life-saving dogs during times of financial crisis.
Marine veteran Dan Spangler (left), injured in Iraq, and Chicago’s very own Army Ranger veteran Joe Trainor, Jr. (right), injured in Afghanistan, together with their service dogs, Spanky and C.T., will share their experiences of how their dogs literally saved their lives.
Dan and Joe both faced difficulty reintegrating into civilian life until they made the decision to adopt a dog from local pounds.
Dan adopted Spanky in 2003 when he returned home from deployment. Dan needed months of medical treatment for an injury he sustained jumping from a truck when gunfire broke out at a checkpoint. Looking back, he realizes what an important role Spanky played in both his physical and emotional recovery. “I don’t know where I would be without the companionship that my dog Spanky gave me when I came home from Iraq,” says Dan. “Spanky saved me.”
As a result of his experiences, Dan created the Dreamer’s Foundation, a nonprofit that assists military families facing the financial challenges of pet ownership. Whether providing aid to families to maintain their pet ownership or assisting military families finding suitable owners in the event of a move, Dan aims to ensure that vets and pets remain linked.
Like Dan, Joe credits his being alive today to a dog. Joe suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and after he made the rough transition to civilian life, he fell into a deep depression, sinking so low he contemplated suicide. Right at that moment, a dog leapt into his lap, gazing at him with complete compassion. The dog literally stopped Joe and saved his life.
In 2010, Joe founded the nonprofit, 1Pet1Vet, which rescues canines from Chicago area pounds and turns the pets into service dogs, providing them free of cost to transitioning service members to assist their reintegration into local communities.
Dan and Joe first met in 2013. They formed an instant bond because of the vital role their dogs played in helping them transition to civilian life. This year they decided to embark on a cross-country tour to share their experiences and educate other veterans on the healing qualities and restoration in personal confidence that dog ownership can provide.
Chicago marks the latest stop on their cross-country trek from Camp Lejune, North Carolina, to Camp Pendleton, California and back to raise awareness and fundraise.
To find out more about Operation Keep Your Spanky and donate to the cause, visit:
I hope to see you at this very special event tomorrow.