Therapy dog given second chance to help veterans - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Therapy dog given second chance to help veterans

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Chippewa County (WQOW) - A handsome redhead is doing his part to lift the spirits of area veterans. And, much like the vets being helped, is being given a second chance to thrive.

Sampson, or Sammy for short, is getting treats and living on easy street, as he provides emotional support for 35 veterans at Klein Hall in Chippewa Falls.

"When you're down, it's like he knows. It's like he knows what's going on and he's just there," Brian Burdick, an Army veteran, says.

"He's very affectionate with the guys. It's amazing what the companionship does for a lot of our guys experiencing PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] or different types of mental illness. How comforting it is to have him sit on your lap for 15 minutes," Christin Casa De Calvo, a case manager at the Veterans Assistance Program says.

Last fall, their seven year old doggy doctor started to be a drain.

"It became a problem with our vets spending their personal money because these gentlemen would come in with not a lot of money, if they had money at all and what they earned, they're spending on Sammy," Casa De Calvo says.

Once Sammy's hip started giving him problems, they knew they needed help.

"We found out that the veterans and the staff was paying for his care out of their own pocket. That's when we decided as a board to sponsor Sammy. So he could do his service to the vets," Karen Polzin of Happy Tails Dog Park says.

Happy Tails Dog Park, where he now has a lifetime membership, started Operation Sammy. They pay for his food, medication and vet bills and, of course, treats.

"This place is a real godsend. I was here and had a stroke back in March. Now if I'd been homeless...prior to getting here I was homeless and jobless... and I'd had a stroke out there, who knows what would have happened to me. This place has really saved my life and there isn't a day I don't thank god for this place and these people and for Sammy," Mark Lawrence, a Navy veteran says.

Right now, Happy Tails is mostly paying for Sammy with their own funds. However, they have set up a special Operation Sammy donation box at the dog park. They also have a link on their website to donate online.

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Chippewa County (WQOW) - The outlook is bright for an area therapy dog after being given a second chance...much like the all of the veterans he helps.  You'll meet Sammy and hear his story tonight on WQOW News 18!

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