Sunday, November 14, 2010

Disabled vet in Texas fights to save life of the dog that has helped him heal

From 33 TV in Texas:

FORT WORTH, Texas — An injured war veteran is fighting to keep his dog alive after an allegation the dog bit someone. A judge ruled the dog is dangerous and must live under strict rules or die.

The veteran's lawyer insists this is a case of prejudice against pit bulls and mistaken identity. He believes if the dog is put to death it could have a devastating effect on the mental health of the vet.

Steven Woods and his dog, Mimi, are in separable.

"She would never leave my side. I can always depend on her to be there," Iraq Veteran Steven Woods said. But in less than two weeks she could be killed by government-order, the same government Woods fought to defend. He is a disabled Iraq Veteran. In 2006 he was on a mission when a road-side bomb sent him flying into the air.

"The explosion threw me from the truck and I landed on my back and my butt," Woods said. He was medically discharged with nerve damage, back problems and post traumatic stress disorder. In Texas he tried to live a normal life as a young man in his twenties. He got a job, but the scars of war made it tough for him to blend in.

"I was driving for Doctor Pepper and I urinated on myself. I thought it was an accident," Woods said. "About a week later it happened again, and I am like this is not right, not right."

It was easy for Woods to slip off into depression, so his doctor suggested he get a dog. He chose Mimi, a pit bull. "I raised her from a puppy. She licked the milk off my fingers all those things that kind of made me happy. It took the depression off a little bit."

In July, one of Woods' neighbors was bitten by a pit bull. His finger was injured. Investigators looked for the dog. Steven let them see Mimi.

"Three months later they seized Mimi and took her down," said Randy Turner, Steven's lawyer. "This time the victim went down there -- initially he said that is not the dog -- but then he changed his mind and said (Mimi) is the dog."

Mimi was put in a boarding facility. On Friday a Fort Worth Judge ruled she is a dangerous dog. Therefore, in order to get her back Steven has to pay $500 in accumulated boarding fees, $500 a year to register Mimi, buy a $100 thousand in liability insurance, and spend hundreds more to build an enclosure for a dog that normally shares his bed. The problem is he lives on a fixed income. The government only gives this disabled vet $800 a month --- nowhere near enough to save Mimi.