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Justin Verlander, Kate Upton give service dogs to veterans during Astros game

Posted: 5:06 AM, Mar 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-22 12:20:59Z
Justin Verlander service dogs Houston

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WXYZ) — Former Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander and his wife, Kate Upton, presented four military veterans with service dogs from the couple's new ADOPT. RESCUE. HEAL program at the Houston Astros Spring Training game on Thursday.

The program gives rescued dogs at animal shelters the chance to be adopted and trained as service animals that can provide comfort and assistance to military vets living with PTSD, TBI or other service-related injuries. It was launched through Verlander's Wins for Warriors Foundation.

Verlander and Upton met the first four dogs in November when they were chosen from the Houston SPCA. Since then, they've been in training with Ernie Rivera, a combat-wounded Iraq War veteran who specializes in training medical service dogs.

The veterans and their caregivers were flown from Houston to Florida last week to get acquainted with the dogs.

"I'm taken aback. It amazes me that there are still people out there that really care about the vets today in this world, with all the things that are going on," US Navy veteran Coy Webb said in a release. He was united with his service dog, Emily, at the ceremony.

"Kate and I couldn't be prouder to give these veters their new service dogs, and give these dogs a home, a purpose, and a meainingful life," Verlander said in a release.