ADAMS, N.Y. (WWNY) - Tony Walton and his service dog, Chief, have been best friends ever since the day they met back in April.
“Where I go he goes. It’s kind of amazing. There are so many things that you do feel, but the dog just takes it away,” he said.
Walton is an Army veteran from Adams. He has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, after being deployed in Iraq.
He was paired up with Chief after signing up for K9s for Warriors.
The Florida-based program trains shelter dogs to become service dogs for veterans who served after 9/11 suffering PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, or military sexual trauma.
“He’s helped me go places that I usually wouldn’t 'cause I just can’t do crowds,” said Walton.
The service dogs are trained to alert their owners if someone is approaching, help with needs, and give love and support.
Veterans have to go through a three week training program with their new dog, but they don’t have to pay anything. A main goal of the K9s for Warriers program is helping to prevent veteran suicide.
“The dogs just the delete a lot of that...you know the thoughts...and they can draw our attention away from what really bugs us,” said Walton.
Walton has a message for other veterans who are struggling:
“If you’re feeling something or you need the help, ask or have somebody ask for you because it definitely doesn’t make you a weaker person. It takes a stronger person to ask for help.”