SVOU fundraises to sponsor a support dog for local veteran

Back to Article
Back to Article

SVOU fundraises to sponsor a support dog for local veteran

courtesy of Guardian Angels- Medical Service Dogs Inc.

courtesy of Guardian Angels- Medical Service Dogs Inc.

courtesy of Guardian Angels- Medical Service Dogs Inc.

Laurel Kraus, Managing Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Julie Reynolds, an Oakland Township resident, was 56 years old when she lost her life due to a sudden brain aneurysm, leaving behind a husband and four children.

Due to her military connections, a support dog from Guardian Angels – Medical Service Dogs, Inc. was named Julie in her honor and paired with a struggling veteran in western Michigan. The two had an instant bond, and the veteran is now engaged to a fiancé who says he is now a completely different person.

“I know you lost your Julie in January, but I got Julie in February, and she saved my life,” the veteran told Julie’s family in a passing of the leash ceremony.

This is only one of the success stories that have come from the Guardian Angels’ support dogs according to Vito A. Pampalona, who is on the advisory board.

Student Veterans of Oakland University (SVOU) are now raising funds to sponsor one of the dogs, which will likely go to a veteran in need in the local area, and have it associated with OU by naming it Grizz.

The organization’s goal is to raise the necessary $22,000 by August 2019, so that it can be presented at the annual Yellow Ribbon Fund golf outing, which Pampalona hosts.

Tyler Digiacomo, president of SVOU, feels this would show that veterans are not done giving back, and once they leave the service, they still want to support the community.

The highly trained support dogs are specifically trained for post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, mobility issues and more.

Among their many abilities, the dogs can detect emotional stress, guide overwhelmed veterans into less crowded areas, open doors, pick up telephones, hit panic buttons and wake vets up out of a nightmare, bringing them back to reality.

“It not only changes their lives… but everybody around that veteran,” Pampalona said.

Since the Guardian Angels began in 2010, over 200 dogs have been paired and among those veterans, there has not been one suicide, one divorce or one case of domestic violence.

“That’s a great statistic being that the suicide rate in veterans is high for younger and older veterans, [and] divorce is very high,” Pampalona said. “But since we’ve been pairing these dogs, not one case, and that’s a remarkable record.”

In order to raise the funds to sponsor a dog, SVOU will be taking a variety of approaches including partnering with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) post in Rochester and tabling in the Oakland Center. Those who donate will receive an “I donated to save a life” sticker.

The VFW in Pontiac will have a barbecue on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, which will also celebrate the Marine Corps birthday, and all the money raised at the event will go toward SVOU’s fundraising.

No recipient of a Guardian Angels support dog is ever charged, so it is left to efforts such as this to give veterans in need a helping paw.

Anyone interested in donating, or other student organizations looking to get involved, can contact Digiacomo at [email protected] or stop by the Veteran Support Services office in Vandenberg Hall.