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Nonprofit Rebel Rescue Gives Dogs Homes, Heals Veterans

Despite her hulking 180 pounds, massive paws and thumb-sized teeth, Miley, a 4-year-old female mastiff, is as gentle as they come.

"My cats sleep on her," said Shauna Damron, Miley's owner and director of fundraising and marketing for Rebel Rescue.

Saturday, Damron and Christy Bear, president of Rebel Rescue, held their Merry Pitmas adoption event at the entrance of PetSmart. The Victoria nonprofit is dedicated to helping pit bulls, boxers, certain terriers, mastiffs and other "bully breeds," a catch-all term used to describe numerous muscular, square-headed dogs descendent from the Molosser breed.

Despite the name, "bully breeds," are just as capable of love as any other kind of dog, Bear said.

Victoria resident and veteran Robert Mancha, 61, fell to the bully breed charm as he walked past Miley, who lounged patiently under a table at the feet of Bear and Damron.

"I've been wanting to get a dog for the longest (time), but I didn't know where to go," he said.

After consulting with Rebel Rescue for about 30 minutes, he agreed to return the next day to meet a bully breed dog carefully selected by Bear to meet his emotional and physical needs.

Mancha, a retired U.S. Marine Corps corporal who saw combat during his service from 1969 to 1975, said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and bad knees. Rebel Rescue provides cost-free adoption of therapy dogs for veterans.

"Just know that we are big-time into veteran services," Bear said to Mancha.

When it comes to the painful memories some veterans bring home, a dog's love can be lifesaving, Damron said.

"Check the dog out before you check all the medicines out," she said, addressing Crossroads veterans who may be considering adopting a dog.

After all, therapy dogs -- and even plain old rescue dogs -- can tell when their owners are suffering anxiety and mental distress. When veterans suffer, the trained therapy dogs comfort the soldiers in a special way only man's best friend can, Damron said.

"Those animals get them through those hard times," said Damron, whose daughter experienced the horrors of war while protecting oil tanker convoys in Iraq during a 10-year service in the U.S. Army.

And just like their owners, the rescued dogs Rebel Rescue provides to veterans find a kind of healing and happiness in their own right.

"They need to have a purpose," Damron said. ___

(c)2016 Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas)

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This article is written by Jon Wilcox from Victoria Advocate, Texas and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.

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