Army Veteran Receives Fur-prise Of His Life At New York Giants Game
A native New Yorker and rabid New York Giants fan received a very special gift last week when American Humane and SemperK9 teamed up to give him a service dog to help him with his Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Decorated Army Veteran Steve DeVries, who currently lives in Northern Virginia, thought he was going to a football game between his beloved Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. The game night was in honor of all military service members, and DeVries, who was wounded in Iraq in 2006, thought he was simply going to be recognized for his service and root his team to victory.
In a special surprise ceremony that was held before the second half, DeVries, who attended the game with his 12-year-old daughter was emotional as he was called to the field and presented with Levi, a three-year-old Golden Labrador service dog. DeVries has been waiting for a service dog to assist him in his daily life for over a year.
DeVries’s injury in Iraq initially left him unable to walk due to a spinal cord issues, and eventually forced him to medically retire from the military in 2013 because of complications from several extensive surgeries. He will need more surgery down the road, but believes that now, with Levi, he’ll be able to lean on his pup a bit instead of require a cane everywhere he goes.
DeVries said that Levi will help him with greater mobility, and help alleviate some of the many residual effects of Post Traumatic Stress symptoms, which will in turn allow him to live a more normal life with his family. DeVries’s wife is expecting a baby girl and DeVries said that Levi will allow his children to have their father fully in their lives once again.
American Humane has supported the U.S. military for over a century. The organization continues to honor this legacy today with its Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs, which includes a program dedicated to providing lifesaving service dogs to veterans in need.
“We’re thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to put a healing leash in the hands of a military veteran,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “It’s a privilege to recognize the incredible service and sacrifice of Mr. DeVries with this special gift,” Ganzert said. “On behalf of American Humane, thank you to all of our armed service members for your heroic contributions to our country.”
Semper K9 uses rehabilitated and service-trained rescued and shelter dogs for wounded and/or critically ill service members, and in their donation of Levi, essentially saved both the lives of Levi and Mr. DeVries. The United War Veterans Council, who with the National Football League also collaborated to present Levi at the game, said that the collaboration was a great way to coordinate efforts for veterans and animals alike, working toward a greater good for both. American Humane has supported the United States military for over a century, and all involved were thrilled with the privilege of giving a ‘healing leash’ to Mr. DeVries in recognition of his heroic contributions to his country.
Levi and his new Papa will be part of Levi’s graduation ceremonies on November 17 in Manassas, Virginia and then will go to his furever home after. Mr. DeVries says he’s simply overwhelmed at all of the fanfare given, but most importantly, thankful for the new life that Levi will give him and his family.
And to top it all off, the Giants won that game. Talk about a night to remember!
More by Lori Ennis