A special plea for a Vietnam Veteran and his Dog

In October 2010, Valley Dogs received a very special request from a homeless Vietnam Veteran who had hit some very hard times.  He lost his job, wife, and home, all within months of each other.  He has been a handyman for 35 years, but has been having difficulty finding work.  So he did all the odd jobs he could, and was living out of his truck.  He made dozens of calls to rescues pleading if anyone could temporarily watch his dog, Libby, a 3 year old yellow lab, until he got back on his feet.  Libby is his life, and is all he has left, but he felt he needed to do what was best for her.  We were all drawn to his love and dedication towards Libby, and his putting her needs before his own.  Valley Dogs stepped up, and found a temporary home for Libby.  Gary tearfully said his goodbyes to Libby, and promised her would come back for her. 

The VA assisted Gary in getting an apartment in November, and he was ecstatic to get Libby back.  Unfortunately, two weeks later, while walking across the street, Gary got hit by a drunk driver.  His right leg was shattered, and about 5 inches of his leg had to be replaced with a metal rod.  He pleaded with Michael, the president of Valley Dogs, to take Libby in again temporarily, until he could care for her again.  We could not turn our back on Gary, and took Libby in again. 

A few weeks later, Gary called Michael from the hospital inquiring on Libby.  Michael told him that she was moved from a boarding facility to a foster home.  Gary burst into tears.  He thought that we permanently placed Libby in another home.  He had no family here, and had not had one visitor in the hospital for 3 weeks.  As Michael reassured Gary that Libby was still his dog, Gary kept repeating “she’s all I have left, I have nothing”.  The only clothes he had at the hospital were all cut up, and he only had one shoe after the accident.  Michael put out a plea to the rescue asking how we could help Gary.  We collected clothes and shoes, brought meals to the hospital, and were able to bring Libby to the hospital on Christmas.  Libby was so excited to see her dad in the hospital that she nearly knocked over the tray table to get to him.  It was a very special moment. 

Gary was expected to be in the rehab facility for at least another two weeks, but the insurance from the drunk driver ran out, and he was prematurely released.  He has no in-home care, and can barely navigate around his apartment due to his impaired leg.  He didn’t even have a ride home from the hospital.  Two of our volunteers transported him home.  

Valley Dogs volunteers have been preparing meals, helping him pay his bills, and Libby’s foster mom has been bringing her over for visits, until he can care for her again.  We’re working with Gary to identify resources for him, but as a dog rescue, this really isn’t our forte, and we’re just hitting a lot of red tape everywhere we go.  He doesn’t belong at home alone in his condition, but he is slipping through the system for being too young, not permanently disabled, or not having insurance. 

Gary is a very proud person.  There is nothing more he wants than to be self sufficient again, and back to work.  He is facing at least a six month recovery period.

Gary also needs to be getting physical therapy for his leg (he is currently limited to 15 sessions), but the PT van will only pick him up in the parking lot, and they will not come to his door to get him.  He can’t get his own shoes and socks on, let a lone walk out of his door. 

We have received overwhelming support from amazing organizations like Madison Street Veterans Association, Furnishing Hope, and Guardian Angels Catholic Community in providing clothes, household items, furniture, and food. We’re doing whatever we can to help care for him, but it is not enough.   We are collecting donations to contribute to his meals, getting him in-home care aide, physical therapy, and helping pay for his rent which is $166/mo.  Any amount would be most appreciated, and we would be happy to provide you with a receipt. 

If you are outraged by how this injured veteran has been treated by the system, please consider making a difference in his life by making a donation.  We refuse to believe that this is all that can be done for Gary.  Please help us make that a reality.

www.valleydogs.org

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About Valley Dogs Rescue & Veterans and Their Pets

http://www.valleydogs.org/ & www.veteransandtheirpets.org Valley Dogs is a 501(c)(3) non-profit (EIN: 26-0896950), no-kill animal rescue organization who's mission is to rescue dogs that have been abandoned, neglected, or otherwise placed in harm's way; to provide temporary housing for adoptable dogs, and to promote and encourage the responsible care of pets, especially spaying or neutering, micro-chipping and vaccination of dogs and puppies. Veterans and Their Petssm is a branch of Valley Dogs Rescue, a 501(c)(3) non-profit (EIN:26-0896950), no-kill animal rescue organization. Our focus is to support for the animals of Veterans in need by providing veterinary care, temporary housing and food. We are based in Phoenix Arizona and are working with the Veterans Association and Veterans support organizations to identify those in need throughout the Phoenix area. We are coordinating support from other non-profit organizations that will also be providing food and other services to the Veterans animals. We are seeking support from others to help us with community outreach, transportation and foster care for a Veterans animal. We have over 40 years of combined rescue experience and knowledge.
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35 Responses to A special plea for a Vietnam Veteran and his Dog

  1. kathie says:

    please let me know where he lives. we are moving out of state and have things to take to good will that we could bring to him-sheets, blankets, clothing, socks, food etc. I will talk to my family and gather anything we can.

    • Hi Kathie, Thanks so much for reaching out and caring. Gary could use a full-size bed and sheets. He also was forced to sell most of his tools, so if you have any tools you could part with, I’m sure he’d put them to good use. I will email you his address and my contact info. Thank you again, Ally

  2. Tami says:

    It would be helpful to know what area of Phx Gary lives in. Not an exact address but an approximate area. This may help pp to know that they are close to him. They may be able to come and help. A PT in the area might donate therapy or a person might donate transportation if they knew Gary lived near them. Also, what type of handyman work does he do? What type of tools could he use? We have some we may donate if they would work for him. Thank you for doing so much to help Gary and Libbie.

    • Hi Tami, thank you so much for caring. Gary lives on McKellips/Country Club in Mesa. Being homebound can be quite lonely, so he would be more than happy for some visitors. If anyone is interested in visiting, please contact me at leelou38@yahoo.com. When I asked Gary what type of handyman he is, he just says he can fix just about anything. He was forced to sell most of his tools to buy food for Libby, a little food for himself, and to pay for gasoline. I’ll work with him tomorrow to come up with a list of tools he could use.

  3. sherry white says:

    This man should be Lin Sue Cooney’s Hero Central/Channel 12, simply for his sheer determination and devotion to his canine best friend! Please consider it!
    I can donate something towards his future employment, if I know what he still needs.
    I hope that drunk driver is locked up for a long long time!
    So glad you ran his and Libby’s story, thank you!
    SHERRY WHITE
    phoenix

    • Thanks for writing Sherry! We are working with several news stations on covering his story. I will keep you all posted. I will be sure to work on a full list of tools Gary could use when I visit him tomorrow night.

  4. Brad says:

    I would really appreciate it if you could give me Gary’s address. I am also a veteran and out of work handyman/ mechanic as well as an animal lover. I have a lot of tools and time that i can donate an I would like to do anything that i can to help.

    • Hi Drake, thanks for writing. Wow, you and Gary have a lot in common! I’m sure Gary would love to meet you. Could you email me your phone number, and I could pass it on to Gary?

  5. Amber says:

    I just wanted to say that I think it’s wonderful that you guys are stepping up and helping this deserving man. I have shared this link on my FB page for my 400+ friends to see and suggested that they donate just a couple dollars. If everyone can donate a little, it will add up in no time! Everyone should share the link on the Facebook, Myspace, wherever they can!

  6. Debbie says:

    Have you contacted anyone with any influence at the VA Hospital?

    • Hi Debbie, thanks for posting. Yes, he has a social worker at the VA, and we’re working with her and other organizations as well. She has applied to get him in home care and meals, however, an evaluator needs to come out to his apartment first, which is another five days or so out. I will keep you all posted! Thanks, Ally

  7. Ken says:

    I live at Mckellips and Power. We have a chocolete lab of our own. Good picture I can tell how much these two care for each other. Have him contact me perhaps I can be of some help.

  8. Chad says:

    I am at Mckellips and Country club area also.
    I have 2 dogs myself and care for another 3 So I can see the need for him to get well and be back together with his best friend. Have you a list of some household Items he may need? Does he need a tv, vcr, dvd, player? One needs some sort of entertainment while recovering. Also how about microwave? I can provide lots of items if you put a need list together. Im sure I have extra tools kicking around too.

  9. Kerri R. says:

    I posted Gary’s story on my Facebook page and also sent the info to a Channel 3 News Reporter. I am so glad to know that people have stepped up to help Gary & Libby’s cause!
    Thank you all.
    Get better quickly Gary and Big Hugs to you and Libby.

    Ally, you are such a WONDERFUL person, if you haven’t been told that lately!

  10. Kerri R. says:

    A friend passed on this website to me for Gary.
    http://www.laceyshouse.com/
    Maybe contact them and ask them questions abotu a fundraiser for Gary & Libby?
    Just a thought!

  11. Fiona Peden says:

    Good Luck Gary & Libby- hope you are back on your feet again soon!! To one Veteran from Another! God Bless You!

  12. denise rick says:

    It is currently January 16th, my husband just found this story and we both would like to help.
    We live in San Tan valley but I would not mind driving to Mesa to help care for Gary.
    I am not a professional but I can clean house do laundry provide food and cook for him.
    My husband might have extra tools, please let us know Gary’s current needs, as it sounds like there has been a great outpouring of help from many sources.
    We are not rich by any means but could donate a little money to help him out.
    If by this time Gary is being provided for I want to thank you for all you have done and will make a donation to help your orginazation as we are such dog lovers.

  13. ddeep says:

    I might suggest that you contact altex….they supply care to people who are low income thru the state, although sometimes it takes awhile, their phone # is will i have a case managers phone # they will be able to get you to the right department they pay for caregivers, and assisted living there is one assisted living that accepts dogs desert springs…in phoenix…623-474-7327. I will also donate…Good luck!!!

    • Thank you Dee! We have provided all suggested resources to Gary’s VA social worker. She has been able to secure some in home assistance for him. Thank you for your donation. I will be sending out a donation receipt.

  14. Marty says:

    I am going to make the assumption that he has tried to get services from Arizona Long Term Care. If not that should be tried.

  15. Melissa says:

    I noticed there hasn’t been any current updates and I was really wanting to know if Gary is currently in need of anything? Thank you for your time and service. 🙂

  16. Chad says:

    I was over to see him last weekend. I brought him over an air compressor, silverware set, utensils, and a vacuum cleaner. He needs a wooded or metal desk to use as work table bench, and I think he needs better pots and pans. also any tools at all I guess. Maybe some dog toys treats too his dog visits him everyday.

    • Thank you so much Chad! Gary’s dog Libby is currently in boot camp training for a month so she can be more easily managed by Gary and help him out around the house. She has had minimal training, so right now is very difficult for him to control, let alone walk with. So please, if anyone would like to visit with him, please let me know.

  17. Kerri R. says:

    Hi all,

    I am currently the trainer working with Libby and just wanted to let everyone know she is such a great dog. She is learning more basic training and then I am going to work with her on service dog training. She is 1 SMART girl and this will be a easy adjustment for her to help John around the house! She will have her weekly visits with John to re-assure her that he is still her Daddy. We have taking her hiking and she wore a vest for this and learned very quickly how to get around with it on. We feel she will do this with ease.

    I will try to keep updates on her progress!
    Take care, Kerri

    • Kerri R. says:

      Whoops Meant Gary, don’t know where I got John from!
      Libby is doing great, learning to pick up items and give them.
      She is so smart.

  18. Isabel Richardson says:

    Hello,
    I have some food and dog toy to donate, how do I get these to him?
    Thank you,
    Isabel

    • Hello Isabel! I hope you’ve been contacted before now (we didn’t have a blog volunteer), if not, accept our sincere thanks for your reaching out and offer to help! If you’d still like to help, or get some additional information, contact us at vetsandtheirpets@Valleydogs.org or contact us here, or on Facebook @ VetsAndTheirPets. We have been fortunate enough to have several other Veterans we’ve helped this year (to the tune of 10!), we couldn’t do it without the support of great people like you! (volunteers ALWAYS wanted, from helping to run the organization, to things like helping at events, like our latest fundraiser at Petsmart in Tempe, AZ where we benefit from ‘pet photos with Santa’). Thank you so much! 🙂

  19. Mastiffs 4 Soldiers would be more then honored to put together a Facebook auction for Gary.
    We had originally planned to hold a March auction for the program . However my heart is broken by this story and It would be our privilege to do so, we will flip our March auction to benefit Gary.
    Can someone contact us with information for him.
    Thank you
    God Bless those who have served.
    Danielle

    • Danielle, First I would like to apologize for the delay in response, we just don’t have enough volunteers, and have been fortunate enough to help several more veterans since Gary! 🙂 We’d be grateful for any help you can offer, contact us at: VetsandTheirPets@Valleydogs.org or here, since the blog now has an administrator. Also, we’re on Facebook, and have a great social media presence @ VetsandTheirPets! … And we couldn’t agree more – God Bless those who have served! Thanks so much! 🙂

  20. Kerri R. says:

    An Update on Libby;
    Libby was with me for around 5-6 weeks learning awesome things to help Gary with.
    She has been returned to Gary and with once a week training with him, they are learning what to do together so he can have her help him.
    She is such a smart girl and Gary is So Very Happy to have her home with him again.
    Her training will be finishing up in about another 6-8 weeks and then she will be a Assistance Dog for Gary.
    A vest has been ordered for Libby to wear so that people know just how special she is.
    I have pictures but am not sure how to attach them. I will send them off to Ally for her to attach of the joyous re-union of Libby coming home to Gary.
    Thanks for allowing me this awesome opportunity to Help out 1 of Our US Vets and his beloved pooch.

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