Marine veteran expresses the importance of service dogs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Marine veteran expresses the importance of service dogs

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PARKERSBURG (KWWL) -

Corporal Matt Hatala spent four years in the Marine Corps. A small part of that time was with his IED detection dog, Sergeant Chaney.

"Went seven months in Afghanistan together and then came home and he went back to South Carolina and I stayed in Camp Pendleton for a couple more months," said Hatala.

Hatala was put with Chaney after being selected to be a dog handler for his platoon.

The pair's job was to detect improvised explosive devices. Chaney even found a 30-pound IED behind a local officials home, meant as an assassination attempt.

But after returning to the states, Hatala had to say goodbye to his partner.

"I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't cry the day I put him back on that dog truck because it's a bond that not many people will understand," said Hatala.

It was a bond Hatala couldn't let go, so after more than a two year process, he was able to adopt Chaney.

"They brought him out and I saw him before he saw me and he kind of looked at me but I mean obviously I look a little different after leaving the military and it wasn't until I said his name then his ears went up and he started pulling, he was trying to get to me," said Hatala.

Hatala now lives with his wife and Chaney in Parkersburg.

He volunteers with Retrieving Freedom and is working to help other veterans. He says although Chaney may not be a trained service dog, he knows the importance of having a companion.

"We've been though so much together and just that sense of security. I had trouble sleeping when I got home and now that he's able to sleep in the house with me that's helped a lot," said Hatala.

Hatala was a guest speaker at the American Legion in Parkersburg. That group presented Retrieving Freedom with a one thousand dollar donation.

Retrieving Freedom plans to build a facility in Waverly where they can train the dogs with their potential owners. For more information: http://retrievingfreedom.org/

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