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'My constant companion': Sheboygan County Veterans Court brings in service animal for first time

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Posted at 2:47 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 19:30:36-04

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — "No man left behind" is a motto you often hear from a Marine. But what happens once our brave soldiers return to civilian life and run into trouble?

Some have treatable disorders, but do not know it until they have a run-in with the law.

A new addition to Sheboygan's Veterans Court is hoping to make a big difference.

"Oliver" the dog has already changed the life of Marine Jesse Lovell. He says he lives with a rare hearing injury after serving in Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq.

"I don't like going out in public places because of physical disabilities that I have, but he makes me more comfortable doing the things that I need to do to get by in daily life," Lovell said.

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He received Oliver for free, thanks to the Sheboygan non-profit, Dogs2DogTags.

"He's my constant companion. Everywhere I go, I mean everywhere I go," Lovell said.


Now Lovell and Oliver will be part of a new effort to support fellow veterans who are facing time in Sheboygan County Veterans Court.

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"They're going through things that I totally get," said Lovell.

Judge Angela Sutkiewicz was on board with the idea from the start.

"Having him here, its wonderful, it calms people," Sutkiewicz said. "It changes the atmosphere. He socializes a bit before court."

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"He's actually off-leash at the beginning of court," said Pam Wittkopp, Executive Director of Dogs2DogTags.

Wittkopp is the one who rescued Oliver from a Texas shelter. Oliver was rescued just one day before he was going to be euthanized. She nursed him back to health and trained him for 10 months to become a service animal.

"He stays with the defendant who's talking to the judge and gives him support," Wittkopp said.

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Dogs2DogTags has paired 32 dogs with an area veteran. Everyone is excited about the new direction to show more veterans there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The organization covers all medical expenses of the animals they pair with veterans for its entire life. Click here to learn more.

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