Sunday at Mid Ohio Harding Steinbrenner Racing and Dogs2DogTags announced a new partnership.
The partnership started with a chance meeting at Road America. Torre Willadsen, the founder, decided to pick Mid Ohio because Morty, the German shepherd who was there with veteran Chris Van Etten, came from Ohio.
“Every dog deserves to be saved and every veteran deserves to have a dog,” Willadsen explained. “We’re focusing on two lives and trying to make a match.”
Any breed of dog will be considered for the program.
On the Dogs2DogTags website the group explains their purpose:
“We create an opportunity to save shelter dogs, train them, and place them with deserving service members who have been diagnosed with post-combat stress and anxiety. There is no out of pocket cost for the veteran to receive a trained dog, and they gain a constant companion to help them cope with the unique challenges of their everyday life.”
“Starting with being an American team with an American driver. It’s about helping spread awareness for an organization that helps the men and women and others that help serve this country during and after combat,” HSR Team owner George Steinbrenner IV said.
Chris Van Etten (second from left, above), a veteran who lost part of both legs in 2012 while serving in Afghanistan, has a support dog and also serves as a spokesman for Dogs2DogTags. He said the dogs really help the veterans “on the not so great days, when it can be tough. And those are the days when it can all come flooding back. Having that companion… just laying in the bed who licks your face and just wants to be there with you is enough to kind of shake you from whatever is holding on to you that day.”
Willadsen said the organization is looking to buy land in Wisconsin to build a facility for the dogs and veterans to meet and match up. He said the cost right now to go through the evaluation process is between$24,000-$40,000.
For more information, go to the Dogs2DogTags website,
To text a donation, text D2DTHSR to 44321. Donations as small as $1 are accepted.