New dog walk to help military members, medically retired veteran service dogs

Walk will also help retired military dogs with veterinary medical bills

SAN ANTONIO – A new walk is being held to help financially support active duty service men and women, medically retired veteran’s service dogs, and retired military dogs with veterinary medical bills.

Sgt. William Cole knows firsthand how expensive medical bills can be. When he returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, he became depressed. 

"Two of them passed away there in the squad with me. One of them I stood next to every single day and he was in a helicopter crash,” Cole said. 

RELATED: Rescue dogs, veterans aim to protect schools nationwide after Florida shooting

RELATED: Family dog shot 3 times returns home after protecting teen owner from burglars

His life changed when he met Hank, a labrador retriever. 

“Hank was able to get me back in touch with my emotions,” Cole said. 

Cole’s life changed when Hank was involved in an accident and he received the bill. 

“He required surgery and it ended up being about a $23,000 veterinarian bill,” Cole said.

Cole brought Hank to the Texas A & M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. After Cole’s story spread, not only did an anonymous donor pay his bill, but a member of the Texas A & M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences established Eli’s Fund.

“It (Eli's Fund) is for veterinarian costs for retired military working dogs and service dogs,” Cole said.

Eli’s Fund is named in honor of Colton Rusk, of Orange Grove, Texas, who was killed overseas. His military working dog was named Eli.

The first dog walk for Eli’s Fund will be held on Saturday, March 24, at Eisenhower Park at 10 a.m. Following the walk there will be live and silent auctions, live music, food trucks, dog grooming and more.

For more information on the event, click here.