A Veteran and His Dog: Saving Each Other and the World

A Veteran and His Dog: Saving Each Other and the World

by Susan Neuhalfen

Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide. It’s a staggering statistic and one that many veteran support groups are fighting every day.

Rob Genet knows this all too well. His father, a veteran, took his life 30 days after Genet was discharged from the military. Genet, too attempted to take his own life at the pinnacle of his decent following the military, illegal activities, and drug addiction.

“I fell in with the wrong crowd after leaving the military,” said Genet who first served as a Marine and then in the Navy from 1997 until 2002. “I injured myself during a fall and was put on all kinds of drugs until I was finally diagnosed with a brain injury.”

Genet was later diagnosed with kidney disease and heart damage as a result of years of drug abuse. After receiving this news, he walked out of the hospital and came upon a dog lying in the VA parking lot. Someone had abandoned it to die. This was a pivotal point in Genet’s life.

“I told myself if I was going to do one thing in my life to make a difference, I was going to save this dog,” he said. “I put the dog in my car and went to find help.”

Sadly, he couldn’t save the dog, a Pit bull that had been abandoned after a fight, but it motivated Genet. He wanted to do something to help veterans like him and he had an idea.

“I wanted to not only help the dogs, but to help other vets like myself to heal,” said Genet.

Through The Love Pit, a local Pit bull rescue, Genet found Buxley, another Pit bull pulled from the fighting ring, who was destined to become Genet’s constant companion.

Genet, along with a friend formed Pitbulls for 22 which now works with The Love Pit and No Bully Left Behind, along with local shelters and other rescue organizations, to match dogs to vets. They have placed eight dogs so far and have sponsored three others to adopt. They are placing them as companion dogs, but hope to place trained service dogs.

“We want veterans to know they can reach out to us,” said Sandi O’Neill who along with her brother, are business partners and friends of Genet. “The biggest benefit they receive from an emotional support dog is staying focused in the here and now and to have that support that they need to make it through the rough spots.”

The general public may support Pitbulls for 22 by purchasing merchandise at pitbullsfor22.com or donate directly to Buxley’s Battalion (the non-profit arm of Pitbulls for 22) at buxleysbattalion.org. Veterans and their families can reach out to Buxley’s Battalion or Pitbulls for 22 to access the programs they are building to help veterans engage back into civilian life and to request a dog.

“Both of us are no longer fighting for criminals and now have each other’s backs,” wrote Genet in his blog. “A Marine turned drug dealer and an ex-fighting dog together taking on the world.
Who would have thought?”

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