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UMTV: Dogs Rescue Veterans

In this story from 2010, see how pets can provide good medicine for veterans. 

At 26, Jacob Hyde is a vet with a hidden wound: PTSD. Puppies Behind Bars gave him a new "battle buddy" to help him cope in civilian life.

SCRIPT:

(Locator: Chicago, Illinois)

Mya is more than just a pet to Chicago's Jacob Hyde, a veteran at the age of 26.

Jacob Hyde: "In the Marine Corps, you have what's called a battle buddy and you're never without another person. You never do anything alone. Since I've gotten Mya, she's my battle buddy. I've constantly got someone watching my back."

Jacob struggles to function in civilian life, diagnosed with PTSD &ellipsis; post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jacob Hyde: "It's hard, it's an everyday struggle, sitting on the floor thinking about cutting myself or wondering how I can kill myself."

Mya was trained by an inmate thru a ground-breaking program called Puppies Behind Bars. Jacob found the program online, applied, and was chosen to receive a dog.

Jacob Hyde: "It was the happiest I've ever felt in my life that night, when I found out she was going to be my dog."

Mya learned to do everything from opening and closing doors to putting groceries in a basket, even putting laundry in the washer.

Jacob Hyde: "If I feel really bad and I'm having one of those bad panic attacks on the floor, Mya goes to the bathroom and gets my pills that are in a bag and she drags them in here on the floor. She lays there, puts her paw in my face and licks me and just licks me until I come out of it and stop shaking. There's no limit to what she can do for me, what she does do for me."

Jacob Hyde: "Over one million people have served in Iraq or Afghanistan by the end of this war. Organizations like Puppies Behind Bars support our troops by putting service dogs in their hands and allowing veterans to get thru their lives and allowing veterans to want to stay alive."

Donations help cover the $30,000 cost to train the dogs. One strong supporter has been the Rocky Mountain Conference of The United Methodist Church. Now, with Mya's help, Jacob is pursuing a doctorate in psychology, aiming to help others like him.

Jacob Hyde: "She's the only way I can get around in public now, because of her. And if I didn't have her, I wouldn't survive."

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There are currently dozens of puppies being trained in prisons. Since the program's inception in 1997, 34 puppies have been placed with vets. You can find more information at www.PuppiesBehindBars.com.

This story was first posted Nov. 10, 2010.

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