SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Veterans coming home from war are finding that dogs are one of the best ways to cope with PTSD. But the dogs are very expensive to train and are currently not covered by the Veterans Affairs.
Until that changes, local vet Mike Malloy is stepping in to help other like him.
Deep in the foothills of East San Jose at the Cooperhaus K9 training center, he’s training his own PTSD therapy dog.
He’s in search of the “Old Mike” — the tough pararescueman who saved lives around the world.
“People are not meant to see the things that I’ve seen,” said Mike Malloy.
The “Old Mike” is back, for now.
“This is the Mike Malloy that I want to see,” he said. “It’s a work in progress, I guess.”
In April of 1994, one of the worst friendly fire incidents happened in U.S. history.
Two U.S. Blackhawk helicopters were shot down in Iraq by American fighter jets killing 26 people.
It was Malloy’s first mission, and he was on-scene to recover the charred, bloody remains.
“A lot of it was done barehanded,” he said. “And without getting into too much detail, it was complete carnage.”
Malloy didn’t know it, but he’d been battling depression, nightmares and paranoia while on the job for the past 20 years.
“When you see these things, they have an effect on you,” he said. “It’s not ‘if’ it’ll have an effect on you, it’s ‘when’.”
But now he’s got an unlikely wingman.
Fury, a 10-month-old German Shepherd puppy, is training to be his eyes and ears.
As a PTSD therapy dog, she tracks and blocks strangers by circling him, watches his back, and gives him peace of mind.
“It’s a very hard thing to explain,” he said. “You just know that you got a battle buddy.”
At $15,000 each, the highly trained dogs are not cheap.
And so Malloy has founded the Argos Foundation to fundraise for more PTSD dogs for veterans who have sacrificed so much.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to help somebody who would have died if you weren’t there,” Malloy said. “People have the chance to have that feeling by helping you now? And I would love for that to happen.”
To learn more about how you can help, visit Malloy’s GoFundMe page.