Nine year old Mike, a Belgian Malinois, served our country in two tours of duty in Iraq. During this time, Mike and his handler Matthew Bessler, an Army Ranger (now retired), worked to detect explosives and insurgents. Their work earned both of them bronze stars.
Sadly, Mike developed PTSD and was unable to continue his service. A veterinarian prescribed the pup prozac to help ease his anxiety.
Mike wasn’t the only one to come out of his tours of duty with PTSD. Matthew also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. This shared experience deepened the connection between the two and after they both retired in 2010, Mike began to ease his human’s PTSD symptoms.
Matthew told the Billings Gazette:
“I raised 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 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.”
The pup would nuzzle Matthew or drop a toy into his human’s lap to pull his handler out of his dark moments.
Their partnership came to an end this past week when Mike escaped his fenced in yard and wandered into the street. It was there he came in contact with a bicyclist. The unidentified man claimed that Mike was about to attack him. Fearing for his life, he shot the canine veteran with a gun he had holstered on his bike.
The shooter has not been charged with any wrongdoing. According to Park County Sheriff Scott Steward, if the man felt his life was genuinely in danger, he was within his rights to defend himself.
However, Matthew balks at this claim. Not only does he not believe his dog would attack someone, Mike was shot from behind. Due to this, it appears that he was not on the attack at the moment he was shot.
Currently, there is a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to give this decorated canine veteran the funeral he deserves. Matthew will donate any extra funds to support veterans.
We may never know the truth about the events surrounding Mike’s death, but we do know that he saved countless lives and was cherished by his human, Matthew. We thank you for your service, Mike. Rest in peace and run free.