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Treasure Coast organization donating service dogs to wounded veterans

DDS4VETS offers services, resources, and support to veterans
Posted at 1:14 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 16:09:03-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A local veterans group is doing what it can to make sure those wounded while serving can live full, productive lives.

Inside Matt Kleemann’s Palm City home, Charlie brown is always by his side.

“Helps me do the laundry and makes my life a lot simpler,” Kleemann said.

The chocolate lab was partnered with Kleemann after the Navy diver was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

“Every day he’s helping me and making my life easier, helping me be more independent,” he said. “The cool thing about Charlie, he knows when to turn it on-- when it’s time to work and when it’s time to just chill out.”

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Service dog Charlie Brown makes life much easier for Navy veteran Matt Kleemann.

This relationship struck a chord with Deb Doherty. Meeting Kleemann, the realtor wanted to help other veterans in similar situations.

“Decided to do something more, I was looking for a purpose,” she said.

Doherty created DDS4VETS, offering services, resources, and support.

“I have a younger brother, he suffered from PTSD and is no longer with us,” she said.

She wanted to create more partnerships between humans and canines.

“DDS4VETS is a resource center,” she said, “you tell us what you need, we know where to go.”

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Deb Doherty created DDS4VETS to provide services and resources for veterans.

Right now, Mike Colton is putting Shylah through her paces.

“She is two years old, she is a black German Shepherd rescue from the humane society,” he said.

Shylah will be one of a handful of dogs given to wounded veterans at a gala next month on Hutchinson Island.

“The satisfaction of seeing a human being and a K-9 partner come together and working together for a common goal and achieving that common goal has just been magical at times,” said Colton.

Kleemann will be at the gala, but that’s not all.

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Mike Colton is training Shylah to be a service dog before she is paired with a veteran.

“Going up to Washington, D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon,” he said.

He has a lot to look forward to before the year is done, in addition to an upcoming wedding.

“It’s actually my 10-year anniversary from the accident on Dec. 12,” said Kleemann.

And Charlie Brown will be there with him with a bowtie on.

“These dogs give the veterans a purpose,” he said.

The DDS4VETS gala is Oct. 8 on Hutchinson Island. To lear more about the gala or the organization itself, click here.