Law Enforcement and First Responder
In the early hours of July 21, 2016 a team of Officers from the US Forest Service and Deputies from the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office were investigating an illegal marijuana garden on public lands within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Two suspects attempted to flee and Ice was deployed to capture one of the suspects. As Ice was apprehending the suspect, the suspect used a large knife to stab Ice twice in the chest as well as the face and muzzle. Despite Ice’s serious wounds, Ice remained apprehending the suspect until the suspect was taken into custody. Ice’s bravery likely saved the other officers from getting stabbed or injured.
Despite his trauma, Ice didn’t let out a whine nor a whimper. Ice’s handler and the team immediately bandaged and dressed his wounds. As the area was extremely rugged and remote, a California Highway Patrol helicopter was dispatched. Ice’s handler and other team members then took turns carrying Ice approximately ¾ of a mile over rough terrain and dense vegetation to a suitable landing location.
Ice was airlifted to VCA Asher Animal Hospital in Redding, CA and taken immediately into surgery where the doctors and staff were able to repair his wounds. Ice has since made a full recovery and has returned to duty.
This wasn’t Ice’s first scrape, and though a tough as nails working dog, Ice also has an extraordinary ability to interact and socialize with people. Both these amazing abilities makes Ice a truly special dog and partner.
Atlas the Wonderdog
After coming home from Iraq, struggling with PTSD and dealing with the effects of a TBI from a roadside bomb, I was virtually lost, locked in my own personal prison. I began getting treatment while still Active Duty, which consisted of talk therapy and a single prescription. After getting out of the Marines, I continued treatment with the VA system, and nearly a decade later, the “treatment” consisted of more than 8 different prescriptions totaling more than 33 pills a day.…my life felt very sad, hazy, and hopeless……I was lost. Until I found Atlas.
Atlas is not only my service dog but he is my lifesaver. Atlas is a grounding and solid presence when flashbacks, hypervigilance, and the lingering effects of war begin again to creep up my spine. Atlas has been trained to sense these changes in me and then acts to redirect my attention and focus during these overwhelming instances: whether it is to nudge my hand if I am getting anxious, wake me up in the throes of a nightmare or just stand behind me so I know someone has my back. With his presence, I am able to take an active, positive role in my children’s lives.
Atlas has not only completely changed my life, but as the “face” of, and inspiration behind the creation of The Battle Buddy Foundation, he is also a beacon of hope for so many others struggling to cope. A regal reminder that there is hope, that there IS a way to find yourself again after combat and trauma, and that your pains and struggles have value.
Service and Guide/Hearing
Palm Bay, Florida
“I’ve used a cane for the past 25 years, and when I first took hold of the harness of my new Fidelco guide dog, I felt free.” – Don O., Fidelco client
While serving with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division during the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), Don sustained an injury that eventually claimed his vision. In the more than two decades that followed, Don navigated through life with his white cane, along with the support of his wife, Peggy, and two children. As an experienced cane traveler who moved about the world quite well, Don had not seriously considered getting a guide dog until one day he now remembers as a turning point in his journey.
Last year, on a family vacation, Don and his son, Jordan, set out to explore historical monuments together. At the conclusion of the trip, Don asked Jordan to describe his favorite part of the tour to which the twelve-year-old responded, “Dad, I wasn’t paying much attention…I wanted to make sure you didn’t fall.” Heartbroken at this admission, Don knew Jordan needed the freedom to be a kid and not a sighted guide. And the payoff in having his guide dog, Pierce has been even greater than relieving this burden from his son; Don is experiencing life with refreshed independence and freedom. His wife Peggy shares, “I have seen a new confidence in Don and I can’t thank Fidelco enough for. Don’s guide dog is a very loving companion and dedicated to his work. We have all fallen in love.”
Haddonfield, New Jersey
Aladdin was found severely abused and emaciated in 2013, missing 12 teeth and with open wounds. I foster emaciated dogs and he came to me. From the moment I met him, his little tail never stopped wagging, despite his horrific condition.
Aladdin had a rough recovery but he overcame the obstacles put before him. He greeted every person with a lot of hope and despite the abuse he suffered, he trusted enough to learn that no one would hurt him again. Within the year he was a certified therapy dog bringing love to everyone he meets.
Aladdin is a Ronald McDonald House Ambassador dog, his favorite duty! He visits schools doing a humane educational, anti-bullying program. He is a trained crisis response dog and spent a week in Orlando last year after the shooting doing therapy visits and fundraising for the Victims Fund. He works with the Philadelphia Police, fundraising for the Fallen Officers Fund and attending the events they do with special needs children. He is an ambassador dog for Tito’s Vodka for Dog People Campaign and together they have raised over 300,000 for rescues and shelters all over. He also works with Veterans and PACT for Animals.
Most importantly he is a model and ambassador for Show Your Soft Side, a nationwide animal abuse campaign, and he is the spokesdog for the rescue I work with, Lilo’s Promise. Lilo’s takes in medical needs dogs like Aladdin.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, Aladdin has taught me that each time I watch him work.
Emerging Hero and Shelter
Lehigh Acres, Florida
Abigail is a gal that did not ask for the life she was forced to live. Abigail and her bonnets have changed the world. Abigail is a HERO because of the lesson she teaches about forgiveness and dog fighting. Abigail and her Bonnets have brought awareness to the importance of helping “End Dog Fighting.” A one year old pit mix was found as a stray in Miami, Florida. Brockton drove to Miami to bring her to LIFE Rescue. Upon her arrival and after further examinations we believe she suffered the life of suspected dog fighting. She was anemic, she was infested with ticks, scars covered her bloody head, neck, and back legs, half her face was missing, she smelled so bad of infection, and was covered in old dried mud. The entire side of her face was gone. Her skin had been ripped off right down to the ear drum. Abigail had only spent a day at the shelter before she was brought to the rescue’s vet clinic. Her injuries were at least a week old, and she almost lost her life. Abigail had weeks of hospitalization and daily bandage changes. How would she live a normal life? Would she need rehab? She had several MAJOR surgeries of extensive skin grafts. Day two of her journey is when her “MISSION” began. TJ her vet and vet tech Destiny were changing her bandages, and the way they held the gauze looked like a bow. Since then we called her bandages “her bonnets.” People started sending bonnets from all over the WORLD. Abigail is on Facebook at “Bonnets For Abigail” with over 12k followers who love her. Abigail didn’t need therapy, Abigail is the therapy. She loves people and dogs. She has a mission to continue to teach forgiveness and end dog fighting.
Grand Prairie, Texas
On April 15, 2016, Fort Worth Police were dispatched to locate a missing endangered male. Two elderly men visited a large salvage yard when one suddenly realized that his elderly friend with Alzheimer’s was missing. After a brief search, he realized he needed help and called police. Many officers responded due to the age and medical condition of the missing man. After an extensive search, Sgt Medrano asked Officer Brock if Luca would be of any help. Luca is Officer Brock’s retired SAR German Shepherd who was 10 years old at the time of this call. Luca excelled in area, water, avalanche and forest/desert searches. Officer Brock believed Luca excelled in this because it meant a helicopter ride that Luca loved. Officer Brock picked Luca up from his home and Luca fell back into his training and used his SAR skills to search for the missing man. Luca alerted at an opening of brush at the Trinity River which lead to a very steep hill followed by a steep drop off. Due to terrain, a PD helicopter responded and immediately observed the lost man in the river, stuck in waist high mud on the opposite bank of the river where Luca alerted. Officers shed their gear, swam across the river, rescued the man and brought him to safety. Had Luca not tracked the man’s trail and located him, the man would have drowned in the river which still had very cold, high, fast paced water or would have succumbed to the temperature. Luca’s love and dedication to SAR shows the resilience of older dogs and how training doesn’t go away just because they retire.
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Adak is a 13 year German Shepherd. His longevity and accomplishments as an explosive detection dog are unmatched. During his career he has provided support to dignitaries, celebrities and events across more than 10 states and three countries. He was a Contract Working Dog (CWD) for the US State Department (DoS) in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Army, Ft. McCoy and for a private business, Dogs for Defense Incorporated (D4D).
Adak’s 1st assignment was in Iraq in 2006. Adak was assigned to support the US Embassy and dignitaries. Adak performed a sweep of the Bagdad Central Station prior to the arrival of a dignitary. While performing the sweep Adak alerted to a vehicle in the area, canceling the event.
On January 14, 2008, the Kabul Serena Hotel was subjected to a complex terror attack. During the attack numerous guests were trapped in the hotel. Adak was the first K-9 team to arrive, with terrorists still inside the hotel. Adak led a team of Americans who went room to room inside while terrorists were still active. Adak came across dismembered, deceased victims during his search and performed flawlessly. Over 20 people were evacuated, a total of six people died, including one American.
In 2009, Adak was conducting a sweep of the Ministry of Agriculture when he had an alert. The EOD unit arrived and identified the threat as a mortar shell.
Working for D4D gave constant opportunities to do unique detection work across the US until he was 13. His transition from war to family member was incredible.