Bryan Vallandingham has been an Army veteran for 14 years. Three years ago, a dog named Gunner entered the disabled veteran’s life.
He was not only a loyal companion, but also a service dog. After a military accident, Vallandingham often experiences seizures.
The 3-year-old husky was trained to alert the veteran and family members of the oncoming seizures.
Vallandingham’s wife, Kimberly, told WXIX, “He would tell us by sitting in front of him by laying across him or just barking randomly at Bryan so he would notify us and give us time to get him in a safe situation so he wouldn’t hurt himself.”
On Jan. 12, Gunner was missing from their yard. Unfortunately, somebody had intentionally stolen the dog.
Gunner’s absence was heartbreaking for the veteran and his family, especially since the service dog also was of great significance to Vallandingham’s health and safety.
About five days after Gunner’s disappearance, the veteran experienced two seizures with no warning.
The only reason he knew he had seizures was because others informed him afterward. He posted on Facebook, “I didn’t feel them coming. Gunner would have.”
The Facebook updates sadly became less and less hopeful. On Jan. 17, Vallandingham was posting about how it’s safe to call out to Gunner if he’s found.
By Jan. 29, the nature of the service dog’s disappearance became clearer. It seemed to be a matter of extortion.
Kimberly was contacted by a man who claimed he had Gunner. He was only going to release Gunner’s location in exchange for a gift card.
The family did not comply with these demands. Tragically, the updates on Gunner ended on a tragic note.
Gunner was found after he had been murdered. Somebody had dumped his body on railroad tracks in Walton, Kentucky.
A gunshot wound indicated he had been executed by being shot in the back of the head. The investigation is ongoing with no identified suspects yet.
“RIIP GUNNER, YOU WILL ALWAYS LIVE IN OUR HEARTS AND MIND…REST EASY BABY BOY,” Vallandingham wrote.
He will get a new service dog. Of course, no dog will ever replace Gunner, but hopefully he can find a new companion who can help him with his health scares.
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