WELLINGTON, Fla. -- A retired U.S. Air Force sergeant who has lived with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was reunited on Thursday with the dog who had helped him through some of the darkest days of his life; the two had been separated for more than 10 months.
Robert Moreland, 71, was reunited with Blackjack, the two-year-old German Shepherd he adopted in 2010, after what he and others described as a difficult ordeal.
Blackjack, Moreland said, had helped him cope with PTSD after two decades of service in the Air Force, years of racial discrimination in the United States and a difficult transition home after he left the military.
"PTSD is one mother," Moreland said. "It wipes you out. Every time something goes wrong, it beats you to death."
Last April, Moreland said someone took Blackjack from his home in Miramar, near Fort Lauderdale.
"I said, 'Father, this will be the last dog I ever have. And, somebody stole him,' " Moreland said. "It hurt me to my heart."
A resident of the Century Village retirement community in Pembroke Pines found Blackjack shortly before the holidays and, on Wednesday, contacted the Big Dog Ranch Rescue .
Volunteers at the ranch said Blackjack was found with a dark green, plastic collar and a chain with rotten meat around his neck -- the telltale signs, they said, that he had been used as a bait dog for a dog fighting ring.
"It's something that we take seriously," Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said. "As a dog owner myself [and] someone who's rescued a dog before, this hits close to home. There is understandable outrage in the community when something like this happens."
On Thursday, a scan of a microchip in Blackjack led volunteers to Moreland.
Moreland and Blackjack were reunited early Thursday afternoon.
"My mission is not to please man, but to do the will of God," Moreland said. "These are good people here."
Volunteers said Blackjack needed surgery for some of his injuries and planned to raise money to cover the expenses .
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