Last month, an ex-combat dog named Mike was shot by a cyclist who claims that the 9-year-old Belgian Malinois was attacking him. So after two tours in Iraq and being awarded two Bronze Stars for his bravery in the line of duty, it is the actions of one jumpy American pedestrian that sent this hero to his great reward.
It is truly a tragic turn of events, especially for Matthew Bressler. Matt lost not only the dog who he trained as a puppy and kept him safe during his time in the armed forces, but also the dog who came home with him to help manage his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mike was an incredibly important part of Bressler’s life and a military hero. And that is why Bressler started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Mike’s military funeral.
Mike and Matt met during Matt’s first tour of Iraq. He was paired with a little puppy to train and prepare for a life in a warzone. Quickly, a bond was formed between the two, with Mike always right by Bressler’s side. Not only was Mike a terrific companion to Bressler, he was also a hero in his own right, earning himself two Bronze Stars.
Even when not on active duty, Mike was still a hero to Bressler. When it was time for the pair to return back to the states, Bressler was lucky enough to take his four-legged friend home with him. And it is a good thing too, because the stresses of home life quickly started to eat away at his mental health.
“I raised him and trained him as a puppy, and the ability he has to sense some of the issues that I have with seizures, with my PTSD, my TBI (traumatic brain injury) and severe anxiety disorders, how he can calm me down just by him being in my presence. He can help take the focus and help change the focus of what’s going on with me and help me calm down or relax me.”
When Tragedy Hits Home
The sordid events unfolded on October 10th. Matt was out of town on a hunting trip. When he returned home that night, he discovered one of the most horrifying things he has ever witnessed – his beloved dog Mike was shot and killed.
The shooter, a cyclist riding through Bressler’s neighborhood, said that he felt threatened by Mike and that he attacked him. Before reaching for his gun, the man attempted to use his bike as a makeshift shield. When that proved ineffective, the man pulled out his gun and shot the dog. However, Bressler has a hard time believing this story.
“If the guy was actually fending the dogs off with a bicycle, (Mike) would have really been barking, and there was no barking,” Bessler said. “All there was was just a shot. The guests who were at the house, they said the same thing. There was no barking. It was just a gunshot.”
Because of the mystery surrounding Mike’s untimely demise, Bressler and others are determined to pursue legal action against the assailant.
“He has his story, I have mine. I know my dog. I would like to take a civil avenue to go after him — the gentleman that shot him — because Mike was a retired military officer.”
Honoring a Hero
Mike was a lot of things – a hero, a therapist, a soldier, and a friend. Thanks to him, Bressler was able to not only survive his two tours of Iraq, but also readjust to life outside the service. Because of Mike’s heroic deeds and service, Bressler and others have decided to give Mike the kind of send off a veteran deserves. However, the military does not recognize deceased service dogs as dead vets, and therefore does not provide anything for the service.
As such, Bressler started up a GoFundMe campaign to give his poor dog a kind of service befitting a war hero. And in under a month, their goal was reached (and then some!), giving Bressler the ability to do right by his dog one last time.
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