How A Pit Bull Who Was Set On Fire And Left For Dead Saved The Life Of A War Veteran Struggling With Severe PTSD
A Jupiter, Florida man named Derek Butler who served as an Army Corporal in Iraq returned home with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Butler was treated ineffectively for years, given medications that failed to curb the intensity of the debilitating stresses of war. The Army Corporal himself admitted that his failure to reign in his PSTD almost dismantled his marriage.
He was then given the opportunity to meet multiple service dogs. Specially trained PTSD dogs can provide a sense of security, calming effects, and physical exercise that can make a positive effect in the lives of soldiers upon returning home. The dogs are trained to assist in medical crises, provide treatment related assistance, and assist in coping with emotional overload.
That’s when he was met Phoenix.
Phoenix was a one-year-old severely wounded pit bull who was rescued after he was found savagely tied to a tree, doused in kerosine, set on fire, and left for dead. The injuries to his skin covered his whole body requiring hyperbaric oxygen unit treatment and more, according to WBPF News. Veterinarians also reported that Phoenix’s hip had been shattered, from a possible beating.
The rescue group Furry Friends took over his training, and once all necessary operations were complete they decided that he was sweet and trainable, thus enlisting him as a service dog. After four months, they matched him with Corporal Butler, who was desperate for something that resembled a solution.
“Phoenix came in, jumping around, all happy, and first thing he does is roll over on his belly, happy, and we just kind of clicked,” said Butler.
Butler’s relationship with his new dog not only prospered, but saved his life.
“There was one point where I was like, ‘I’m just going to take the car, drive it off the road, flip it and do whatever,’ but I had Phoenix with me, and I thought, ‘well, he doesn’t deserve to die, so I’m just gonna go home.'”
Butler claims that Phoenix senses when his mood is depressed or angry and nudges him with his head to distract him from his demons, and gets him to play.
Patricia Davis Deshong, President of Furry Friends, is amazed with how strong and caring Phoenix has become, despite his heinous past.
“He’s our rock star. He’s been abused. He has every reason to distrust humans and dislike them and what he does for Corporal Butler is just amazing.”
“We both have a past, and we both are trying to move past it,” said Butler, “Although he’s better at it than me. He’s definitely helped save my life a couple times.”
All the best to Corporal Butler and Phoenix going forward.