Dog Attack Separates Veteran from Best Friend
DES MOINES, Iowa - An Iowa soldier injured in Afghanistan in 2008 is still feeling the effects of post traumatic stress syndrome.
He was driving an armored vehicle when he hit a roadside bomb.
"All I remember is a flash out of corner of my eye," said Chapman.
A friend of his was killed in the explosion, and for the past four years he has been taking a variety of prescription drugs to deal with stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
This spring he found his best medicine doesn't come in a bottle when he was paired with a service dog.
After just three months with his highly trained four-legged buddy, Chapman is not taking any medication for the first time since 2008.
But now Chapman and his service dog, Merit, have been separated.
Chapman's healing process was interrupted Saturday night at a bar in DeWitt. Another dog let into the bar attacked Merit.
"(I'm) getting ready to walk out the door and all of a sudden the pit bull makes eye contact, makes a mad dash to him and me," said Chapman. "When the dog came at him, he came mouth wide open for Merit's neck, but Merit still jumped in front of me to prevent the dog from getting too close to me. He did his job."
Doing his job, may have cost Merit his future with the Chapmans because immediately after the attack Merit stopped doing his job as a service dog.
"You could tell he was sensing the stress that we all were," said Chapman. Merit has started wandering from Chapman's side -- growling at strangers and not following simple commands.
Chapman and his family are returning Merit to Paws and Effect for a few weeks, hoping Merit can be re-trained.
It takes approximately 18 months and $30,000 to train a service dog.
The family dropped off Merit this week for retraining. And Chapman with one last hug and a few whispered words, he was forced to return home without his best friend, hoping they will soon be reunited.
"I hope to God so. I pray that he can be, we just won't be the same without him," said Chapman.
The Chapmans have a substitute service dog while Paws and Effect spends up to two months trying to re-train Merit.
Paws and Effect said that if Merit can't be a service dog anymore, which the trainer said is the likely outcome, he'll go live with the family that raised him as a puppy during training.
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