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.