(WSVN) - After losing her service dog, a local veteran decided to turn her heartbreak into another person’s hope. Find out how she’s changing veterans’ lives in our special report on Blues for Vets. 7’s Craig Stevens has more.
Raquel proudly served our country overseas, but she came home with battles of her own.
Raquel Cruz, wounded veteran: “I suffer from PTSD, and other types of the Gulf War syndrome.”
She credits her service dog, Blue, for saving her life. But in July, his life was cut short. Blue was hit by a car and died in her arms.
Raquel Cruz: “I lost a piece of my heart when he passed away. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to go on.”
Raquel felt like she lost everything, until four days later, when she found out Blue had successfully bred with a friend’s dog before he died.
Raquel Cruz: “His legacy was passed on through eight little puppies.”
With the puppies, Raquel started a non-profit charity called “Blues for Vets.” The group trains puppies to become service dogs for disabled veterans.
Raquel Cruz: “This is one of his puppies. He is actually going to be my service pet.”
“Blues for Vets” teaches puppies basic obedience first. More specialized training comes once a dog is paired with a veteran.
Franco Sicheri, dog trainer: “All of them are going to provide a different task depending on your requirements. Some may be physical disabilities, some may be emotional disabilities. It’s very important that we match the right dog with the right person.”
The organization is already getting the attention of community leaders like Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who is a veteran himself.
Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz: “I’m proud to be a Marine. I see a person like Raquel that’s helping the way she is, and myself and many others that are there to make sure that we help our veterans. That’s what it’s all about.”
He and Raquel believe these service dogs in training are the key to saving veterans’ lives.
Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz: “We’re losing anywhere between 22 and 25 a day, due to suicide.”
Raquel says she misses Blue everyday, but she’s happy knowing his puppies will help other veterans.
Raquel Cruz: “I want veterans that have felt and gone through the same things I have gone through, to experience that, there is hope for them.”
Raquel is starting with Blue’s puppies, but will branch out to rescue organizations and animal shelters for future puppies. If you or someone you know is interested in filling out an application go to the links provided below.
FOR MORE INFO:
BLUES FOR VETS:
MIAMI COALITION AGAINST BSL:
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.