SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) – Here’s a love story with a twist. An injured Mid-South Marine with a new best friend; their connection gave each a new lease on life.
Ten years ago Christopher Bennett lost a lot in service to his country. Back home in Southaven, reintegrating into society proved a new set of challenges.
Bennett needed help, and found it at the end of a leash.
“I was in Iraq in 2002,” said Bennett, “and sustained some injuries over there; accumulated injuries.”
Christopher is considered 80 percent disabled and still has trouble coming to grips with that.
“It’s difficult to talk about, really,” Bennett said.
“He has some anxiety issues,” said his girlfriend, Kayla Deaton, “especially driving. He has some driving issues.”
They both knew what Christopher needed.
“I needed a service dog to help me get around.”
The couple went to Donna Velez at Hearts of Gold Pit Rescue, who had just saved Dancy the pit bull from the Memphis Animal Shelter.
“He was going to be euthanized the day that I got him,” Velez told abc24.com.
For Marine and dog, it was love at first sight.
“We really fell in love with him instantly,” Bennett said, “he’s the sweetest dog I could ask for.”
“He said as soon as he saw him he was just instantly connected,” Velez said.
Now, Dancy will be trained to help the Marine Corps veteran tackle daily living.
“He’ll help me get out of my chair,” Bennett said, “pick up items for me, keep me calm in certain situations.”
“It was really good for Chris,” said Deaton, “already I can tell a big difference.”
And as for those who only believe pit bulls are vicious, Bennett had strong words.
“They’re wrong,” said Bennett, “they’re dead wrong.”
At the time of this writing, Bennett and Dancy had only been together two days and the relationship was already paying positive dividends.
Donna Velez said that nearly 300 pit bulls per month are euthanized at the Memphis Animal Shelter.
Her last second save of Dancy may have helped save another life, that of U.S. Marine Christopher Bennett.