Rescue group helps wounded war veteran get service dog

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JACKSON, Tenn. — A West Tennessee animal rescue helped a wounded war veteran and double amputee get a service dog in Florida. John Hayes is a Marine who said for years he has tried getting a service dog through the VA services in Florida. Hayes spent time fighting overseas in Afghanistan when he was critically wounded by an IED explosion. Hayes lost both his legs and had to undergo more than 70 surgeries, according to family members. “We’re in it for more than just the animals,” Jessica Hulling with Beyond Bars Animal Rescue said. Volunteers with BBAR spent a weekend traveling from the Hub City to Florida’s Ancient City, Saint Augustine with special cargo. Shee-ra is a German shepherd pup born from a line of service dogs in Chicago. She was flown to Atlanta, Ga., to meet staff with BBAR before heading to her now home with the Hayes Family. “It was a way I could give back to a family that might not have been as lucky as mine,” Nathan Fuchs said. Fuchs, along with several other BBAR staff and volunteers, has a personal connection to the military. They said to help transport Shee-ra to Hayes was a no-brainer. “It gave us an opportunity to really give back to the people who have given so much for us,” Whitney Owen with BBAR said. Hayes said for years he tried unsuccessfully to get a service dog. “He felt lost, and he felt forgotten — he felt like nobody wanted him,” Hulling said. Shee-ra will undergo training to become a certified service dog. To help cover costs of travel and other expenses, BBAR raised more than $5,000 in donations for the Hayes family. “There are a ton of people that need help, but it’s a cycle,” Hulling said. “Animals rescue people, and people rescue animals.” For the group from West Tennessee, specializing in animal rescue also means fighting for American heroes.

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