HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — A local organization called "K9 Partners for Patriots" is helping save shelter dogs from certain death with the idea that those dogs will save veterans.
But finding the right match is a tricky process.
"Blackjack" was in a shelter and scheduled to be put down.
But thanks to a rescue group, he was saved in hopes he could save a life himself, specifically, a veteran who needs help dealing with PTSD.
"Blackjack has been tested. He’s already sensitive to the smell of adrenaline," said Mary Peter, CEO of K9 Partners for Patriots.
Peter says only one in about 30 dogs is able to smell adrenaline, but matching the dog to the right veteran can be tricky.
How it works is a group of people sits in a circle to see if the dogs will react to the veteran in the group.
Blackjack went right to Tom Gahagam, a Vietnam vet in need of a service dog.
"Within seconds you see a smile you haven’t seen, it's a life-changing moment," said Peter.
K9 Partners for Patriots has made hundreds of matches, and the extensive training for Blackjack and Tom will continue. But today, Blackjack gets to go to his new home.
"That’s the best part, helping two, saving two: a dog that was going to be put down and a veteran that may not be here without the help of a service dog," said Peter.
But they can’t save those lives without community support. That’s why a local all women’s motorcycle group called the “Diva Angels” delivered an early Christmas gift to K9 Partners for Patriots, giving them $600 to help with their training expenses.
K9 Partners for Patriots also needs people willing to foster dogs before they can be matched with the right veteran.