FREDONIA, N.Y. (WKBW) — U.S. Marine Corps veteran Matt Wronski has a new family member in his support system, "Judge" the service dog. It's all thanks to the Veterans Club at SUNY Fredonia.
The students in the Fredonia Veterans Club recently started raising money to benefit a Chautauqua County veteran. After a visit from WNYHeroes, they were inspired to focus that money on training a service dog for a veteran who needed one. WNYHeroes members Chris Kreiger and Lynn Magistrale visited the club with Kreiger's service dog, Bubba.
“When the dog has his vest on, he becomes a service animal; it’s like the dog saying ‘I’m working,’ and you’re not to touch him,” SUNY Fredonia Associate Provost Judith Horowitz explained in a statement. But when the vest comes off, Bubba was like any other dog and loved to have his stomach rubbed, she added. “The students in the Veterans Club were really struck by that, and they knew that (raising money to support service dog training) was what they wanted to do.”
In all, the Veterans Club raised $4,500 to pay for service dog training for Judge. The training was facilitated with help from WNYHeroes. Wronski and Judge went through three stages of training together, sometimes on the SUNY Fredonia campus.
Judge, named after the New York Yankees star outfielder Aaron Judge, now helps Wronski leave the house more often and keeps him comfortable. Wronski says Judge accompanies him to stores and restaurants, and waits for him when he gets home from work.
Wronski, who served in 5 over-seas deployments during his 16 year military career, says he no longer avoids places like malls and movie theatres.
“He helps get me out of the house, gets me back to normal, so I have no problem with that kind of stuff,” Wronski said in a statement.