CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – A local group is raising money to fund a service dog and gift it to a veteran as a tribute to the victims of the Oregon District mass shooting.
The South Metro Regional Chamber of Commerce partnered with a handful of local organizations to host a K9s for Warriors seminar to show how these dogs allow veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and/or military sexual trauma a new ‘leash on life.’
The seminar, held Wednesday morning at the Sinclair Centerville campus, featured keynote speaker, Capt. Louie Belluomini and his companion, Star.
Belluomini served in the Army for nine years, where he worked as a psychological operations specialist and military police officer.
He was honorably discharged as a captain in 2015 after serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Belluomini suffered from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury after his deployments, until he was paired with Star by K9s for Warriors, the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to military veterans.
“She’s allowed me to go back to work and do the job that I love to do,” said Belluomini.
Belluomini currently works at Hanco EMS in Findlay and as a paramedic at Putnam County EMS in Ottawa.
Star is the first dog in the country to actively work on an ambulance with her handler.
“We try to be a role model for other first responders and veterans that may be struggling and might have a job that’s demanding, and try to show them that it’s possible to do this,” said Belluomini.
On Wednesday, as Belluomini shared his and Star’s testimony, they promoted a fundraiser led by the South Metro Regional Chamber of Commerce to raise the $25,000 needed to fund a service dog and gift to a veteran in need.
The dogs are usually rescued, likely from a kill-shelter, and extensively trained to become the companion to a veteran or other suffering from an intangible illness.
“We’ve named our dog ‘Dayton’ in honor of the nine who passed away in the Oregon shooting and the first responders who saved everyone else,” said Julia Maxton, the South Metro Regional Chamber of Commerce’s president.
“I think it’s super important for the world to see that the city of Dayton, the people, are putting back into a PTSD situation after being such a dramatic and terrorizing situation that happened here,” added Belluomini.
Donations will be accepted at any Farmers & Merchants Bank location, checks need to be made payable to Farmers & Merchants Bank or K9 Dayton.
The Farmers & Merchants Bank is located at 41 South First St. in Miamisburg.