Veteran prompted to start own program after receiving therapy dog

Local News

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – Janet Carpenter started Sophie’s Animal Fund seven years ago in honor of her late daughter and fellow animal lover.

She has since branched out into multiple ventures, including ‘Companions for Veterans,’ where she trains dogs found in rescues, typically ones that are going to be euthanized, and gifts them to veterans.

“We do temperament testing, obedient training, good citizenship so they can go out with a veteran that needs a buddy by their side and just be with them,” said Carpenter.

She told 2 NEWS she has placed about 15 different dogs in their forever homes, both service dogs for veterans with severe PTSD, or companion animals for those who just need a pal who can wag its tail.

One of those veterans is Darin Bonham.

“When I met him, he was in his apartment, I don’t know that he did a whole lot activity-wise,” said Carpenter about Bonhma. “Then he gets Sadie, or Sadie-Bug as he calls her, and he started showing me pictures of them boating together, and told me they went on the bus together, the store, the laundromat.”

Bonham lives in Ripley, Ohio, and said he can’t thank Carpenter enough for finding the perfect fit, adding they considered a few dogs until they decided on Sadie.

“If I get upset, she gets closer, it’s just a beautiful bond, it truly is,” said Bonham.

Bonham said seeing how much Sadie has blessed his life, he wants to start his own similar program to pay forward the gift he received himself.

“I can accommodate horses on my property so really what I’d love to accomplish is some therapy horses where veterans can come and interact with horses,” said Bonham.

Bonham’s program is in its infant stage but said he is also thinking about naming it after his daughter who is an avid animal lover and can’t wait for other veterans to experience the wonderful companionship Sophie’s Animal Fund has given to him.

“Sometimes, the (veterans) close up, and sometimes they’ll open up more to an animal than they will to a counselor,” said Bonham.

For more information on Sophie’s Animal Fund, click here.

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