'Guardian Angels' helping veterans and first responders with highly skilled service dogs

Posted at 12:57 PM, Feb 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-24 23:35:16-05

(WXYZ) — Matthew McMurray served our country in the US Army for 12 years. After coming home, he got a dog named Sandy. He says Sandy was mitigating symptoms of PTSD, but neverrealized it until she passed away last year.

"I wasn't really symptomatic of PTSD until after she died. Then it felt like a dark cloud moved in and consumed me. My wife said, 'hey something's off. You're off.' I said, 'What if I tried to get a service dog?'" McMurray told us.

That's what he did. Thanks to the non-profit organization, Guardian Angels, McMurray was paired with Cobalt in November. Greater Metropolitan Association of Realtors, or GMAR, raised the money needed to train Cobalt. He says it's been life changing.

"A lot of the problems I was having almost immediately, within a few days, they were gone," he says.

Now, Guardian Angels is trying to raise $25,000 to train and place another dog named Sterling.Mary Lamparter is the regional representative for Guardian Angels Medical Service Dog was responsible for coming up with the idea and will be donating to the cause.

She says, "The city of Sterling Heights is trying to raise money for a dog named Sterling. The dog is in training. We are hoping in the next year or so we're going to be able to raise and Sterling will be paired then with a Michigan first responder or veteran. We will try to keep Sterling in Michigan. We'd love to have someone in Sterling Heights, but it just depends on the applicants who apply."

Lamparter adds, "There are 22 vets a day who take their own lives.We don't charge veterans or first responders for these dogs. It literally gives the life back to a man or woman who has served their country or their community. We're looking for people who can help or those who can help donate."

McMurray says Cobalt got him back to a "new normal."

He's hoping those thinking of donating will consider the difference Guardian Angels has made so far. He says stats show every day 22 veterans take their own life.

"Guardian Angels has paired over 200 of these dogs with these veterans...and we've had zero suicides. Zero," says McMurray.

If you'd like to donate or apply for a service dog, you can go to