It breaks our hearts to learn of children and pets, those most helpless in our society, who have been treated cruelly at the intentional hands of others.
Animals can be a huge support for people with special needs. As service dogs and therapy pets, animals offer the unconditional love that so many people with special needs desperately need.
While not having a disability per se, people of all ages who have faced abuse and neglect often feel just as needy. They are typically fearful and lack trust in others.
They put up walls to protect themselves from further victimization. And that is just where a therapy dog can be most helpful.
Therapy dogs are ideal, especially children. Their cute, sweet, gentle dispositions breed trust in them. Their unquestionable love and acceptance of us regardless of what we look like or feel like is redeeming.
While many dogs make good therapy dogs, there is something special about a dog with special needs or who have been abused who then becomes a therapy dog helping people who have experienced the human version of that same disability, abuse or neglect.
This is the story of an abused Husky named Patriot and how he has learned to help children who have also been victims of abuse. This is a truly beautiful story that will melt your heart.
People reported that “children who have suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse in Orange County, California, have found strength to testify against their accusers through the help of a Siberian husky named Patriot who also knows the pain and torment of neglect.”
Children can relate to the four-year-old dog as soon as they see the scars on his muzzle. Patriot was rescued by the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals when he was a puppy.
“They’ll look at me and say, ‘Somebody hurt him,’ says Patriot’s person Kevin Marlin, “and I’ll tell them, ‘Yes. Somebody wasn’t very nice to him, but he’s doing well now.’ Patriot shows that there is hope in moving on with life and getting past the emotional pain. Kids sit and pet him while they talk to attorneys and investigators and they immediately feel more comfortable. Reliving what happened to them is difficult, but he helps them to feel calm and gives them courage and strength.”
Patriot’s wounds were caused by a metal wire that had been wrapped tightly around his snout.
“Somebody had wrapped it tightly to keep it shut,” said Marlin. “I’ve struggled to understand why anyone could be so cruel. Patriot needed several surgeries to help repair the damage. We also learned that his tongue had been severed about three-quarters of an inch.
Marlin starting working with Patriot as a therapy dog after he saw the amazing effects Patriot and other dogs had on his own son with autism.
“They had such a wonderful effect that we were able to take him off some of [the] medications,” Marlin said, “and I knew that they could work miracles with other kids as well.
Marlin worked with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office with a program called PANDA (PAWS Assist the Needs of the District Attorney).
“The kids relate to Patriot and vice versa,” Marlin told People. “I remember one young girl who was just beginning the process of a trial, and she was visibly uncomfortable until Patriot came over and nudged her with his nose. The girl grabbed hold of him and cried. They made a strong connection, and the girl was able to move on with her story. She didn’t want to leave Patriot that day when she was finished.”
The PANDA Program uses a total of 14 dogs to help abused and neglected children feel safe and secure as they share their heartbreaking and painful stories.
“Volunteers and their therapy dogs have provided child victims of sexual assault with the support of gentle and loving dogs at 65 meetings at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office,” said program manager Alicia Nicosia. “This successful program is helping to promote justice with compassion.”
Marlin said that Patriot “wears his scars to remind us all about his story of survival and forgiveness. He’s an incredible dog. It’s an honor to have him in my life and spend my days working with him.”
Patriot’s story is sad. But it goes to show how blessings can come out of bad situations. Patriot is truly blessing all of those children he has helped.