Service Dogs

Editor's Note: This story contains descriptions of alleged sexual assault.

Guiding her cart down an aisle of a Virginia grocery store, Leigh Michel attracts more attention than the average shopper.

"Do you know where the dog food is?" one man asks her. This kind of attention makes her uneasy.

"No, I don't," Michel answers. "Sorry."

The man assumes Michel would know the answer because her service dog, an English black Labrador named Lizzy, is walking at her side.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

For about a decade after he retired from 26 years of service in the U.S. Army in 2006, Larry Debar didn’t think he needed a service dog to help him in his civilian life in Homer City.

“I thought the dog would benefit someone else other than me,” Debar said.

But seeing a working dog in action on a trip to Florida earlier this year started to change Debar’s mind. At the urging of his wife, Holly, he soon dropped off an application for a free service dog through the Guardian Angels nonprofit program in Williston, Fla.