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Fridley animal rescue helps veterans with emotional support

The Fridley-based Happy Tails Rescue offers a free program for veterans to pair with emotional support dogs.

FRIDLEY, Minn. — Animals aren't the only ones saved at Happy Tails Rescue in Fridley. 

Iraq war veteran and purple heart recipient Cody Westphall is connecting military veterans with emotional support animals free of charge as part of his program Cody's Heroes

"The idea came when I was actually seeking treatment at the VA facility in St. Cloud," said Westphall. "I saw some of my fellow veterans had service dogs. I thought it was really neat, [I] saw how it helped them out." 

The process of obtaining and training a service dog can take years. That's why Westphall is speeding up the healing process with Cody's Heroes. 

"They immediately get that benefit versus having to wait a year or two, kinda during those critical times," Westphall said. 

The program takes care of the adoption fee for veterans who then work with an animal training company. 

"We just had a veteran who we recently paired," Westphall said. "[He] still isn't all the way through training, about three-quarters of the way through training, but he's already bringing him to work with him, on the boat with him." 

"Just seeing that companionship, and really just that dog brings that calm for him," Westphall said. 

It's been five years of connecting veterans with emotional support animals, and seeing the joy on the vets' faces never gets old to Westphall. "Just seeing kind of, what people are getting out of it, makes us want to keep going." 

Cody's Heroes is part of Happy Tails Rescue, which opened a new facility on Baker Street in Fridley. The organization hosted a grand opening party on Sunday. 

The space includes on-site animal housing and an animal clinic that offers spaying and neutering. To find out how to help Happy Tails Rescue and Cody's Heroes, check out this link


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