By David Zambrano
Good intentions have led to an unfortunate and unmanageable situation for a Vietnam veteran in Wittmann. Now, Humane Society of Wickenburg (HSW) is stepping in to help.
Willie Bryant, 78, is a disabled Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam. His idea was to raise dogs and pair them with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. Bryant started with nine dogs and now has more than 50 on his small acreage. The dogs are medium to large, active mixed breeds. They live inside Bryant’s home and fenced yards.
As the dogs have continued to multiply, Bryant’s health has declined to the point that he cannot care for them. His self-described degenerative bone disease limits him to crutches. A recent visit to the property by HSW Executive Director Tammy Hankins revealed the dogs are fed, watered and sheltered, however without the ability to clean up after them or control the rate of reproduction, the situation has become dire, she said.
While Bryant’s dogs continue to multiply, a major piece of his plan is missing – how to get the dogs into the homes of veterans. Neighbor Kathy Loveless heard about Bryant’s situation and offered to help by bringing a new litter of puppies to HSW and alerting the agency of the situation.
Following her visit to the property Hankins developed a plan of action, which includes the help of volunteers and seeking monetary donations. Her first goal is to have all of the dogs spayed and neutered. Hankins plans for the dogs to remain on the property and have a mobile veterinarian perform surgeries. She estimates it will cost about $6,300 for surgeries and vaccinations. Once the animals are sterilized, the process can begin to find them good homes. Hankins and Bryant are hoping to find donors who will contribute to the project.
“This is a huge task, and we need to move on this quickly,” Hankins said. “I’m going to call it Mission Pawsible.” She’s establishing a group of volunteers to help facilitate the logistics of preparing the dogs for adoption and facilitating re-homing them. Hankins is also working on contacting organizations which work with veterans to alert them of the opportunities for veterans to receive the pets. At the same time, she will be accepting monetary donations toward the surgeries and vaccinations of the animals.
Bryant is thankful for the assistance in seeing his dream through to reality. Bryant stated, “Marines saved my life from a 420-lb. charging Bengal tiger in the jungles of Da Nang. Because they saved my life, I wanted to give back to veterans by giving dogs to those with PTSD. I’ve raised these dogs and am committed to them but since I’ve come down with all these diseases, I can no longer care for them.”
For more information on helping with “Mission Pawsible” contact Hankins at the Humane Society at (928) 684-8801.