April 14, 2015 --
A shelter dog was scheduled to be euthanized in one day. A former serviceman sat at home crippled with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. The two were paired and now both have a better quality of life.
Through donations from Barney’s Run, Camo, a chocolate brown retriever, was rescued and trained to be a K-9 service dog for veteran Larry Barfield.
Barney’s Run is a 1 mile, 5K and 10K fundraising event, which began in 2013. The run is sponsored by Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church and Deerfield-Windsor School cross country team, both in Albany, Georgia. The purpose is to “help an animal that helps a veteran,” Dr. Lois Hunkele, chairman of Barney Run committee, said.
The event donated all money raised to K-9s for Warriors, an organization which provides dogs to warriors suffering from PSTD or a brain injury as a result of military service post 9/11. Barfield and Camo were the first pairing sponsored by Barney’s Run.
Before he received Camo, the effects of PTSD severely limited Barfield’s ability to enter into public places.
Pam Barfield, his wife, explained, “Larry would only leave home to go to the doctor. Even then, he would stay in the car until it was his turn. He just couldn’t handle public places and crowds. We could not be here today if it were not for Camo.”
Camo was not only saved from being euthanized, he has a new family and is the current mascot for the Barney’s Run.
Last year, Jorge Torres, a veteran, received his dog, Ruey, due to donations from the Barney’s Run and later this year, Mark Mosley, also a veteran, is scheduled to receive a dog as well.
Hunkele explained providing a dog is an expensive undertaking, with each pairing costing between $11,000 and $16,000. She pointed out veterans are not required to pay any of those costs. The first year, Barney’s Run donated $8,000 to K-9s for Warriors. In 2014, the donations increased to $12,000, and this year, the event successfully raised approximately $25,000, which will also be donated to K-9s for Warriors.
According to Hunkele, not only have donations steadily increased, participation in the run has grown, with about 120 people running the course this year.
Lindsey Simmons was a first-time participant this year.
“I loved this run,” she said.
“It gave me chill bumps when I saw those vehicles,” Simmons explained as she slowly moved her hand up and down her arm.
Simmons was speaking of the war-torn vehicles she was able to view while running the course. According to Bob James, deputy director, Base Operations and Training, the course was intentionally marked to go through an industrial portion of the base.
“We wanted to give the runners a chance to see some of what we do here on base, and see what our warfighters are doing for our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
“This run really put into perspective the sacrifices being made by our military, Simmons said. “I know I will be running it again.”
Simmons said her participation is the least she could do for the servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much for her.
For more information about K-9s for Warriors, visit www.k9sforwarriors.org.