Home News Sports/Outdoors Social Business Calendar

Events & Entertainment Letters Obituaries Archives Advertise
Search ...

A community, a puppy, a grateful veteran

November 17, 2023

By Linda Hall

Having just celebrated Veterans Day, the Bonners Ferry Veterinary Clinic would like to share a story of tragedy turning into victory. Andrew Cunningham Sr. and his son Andrew Cunningham Jr. moved to Bonners Ferry after both served their country in the Army dad during the Persian Gulf War son Operation Enduring Freedom. Traveling with them was Andrew Sr.’s service dog, Lebron, who had been an eight-week-old German Shepherd orphaned puppy adopted from the streets of Tijuana, Mexico.

“The saddest day I knew was coming but I had hoped it never would come,” Cunningham said in regards to putting Lebron down. “I debated with myself over and over again and cried repeatedly over the impending decision that I was going to have to make."

He called the Bonners Ferry Veterinary Clinic to see how soon he could make an appointment, so that Lebron, his best friend, did not have to start suffering.

“He had yet to whine, cry or even yelp at this point, but it’s just one of those things you know,” he said.

One day, now 13-year-old Lebron, was brought into the Bonners Ferry Veterinary Clinic, blind and in excruciating pain.

“I was crying uncontrollably and Lebron got up in the car and licked the tears off my face, basically telling me at this point, ‘It’s okay, Dad, and I love you,” he said.

After licking the tears from his owner’s face, Lebron showed his owner that his work on earth was over. Well done, Lebron, good and faithful servant. A grief-stricken Andrew asked if anyone had a German Shepherd puppy needing a home, he would love to adopt it. Dr. Roland Hall, also an Army veteran, and his staff had an idea.

Enter Svetlana Harper, a longtime client at BFVC. Svetlana raises registered German Shepherd puppies for special needs, such as those with autism or PTSD, but the price for a puppy was beyond what Andrew could afford.

Next, enter Mike Weland, writer and owner of 9B News. Weland posted an article of a veteran needing help to obtain a new service dog, and the donations flooded in.

With the generous contributions from many, and a kind-hearted Svetlana, Andrew was blessed with a new companion he named Bronny on November 12 — a dream come true, made possible by a caring community.

Andrew would like to thank everyone who helped bring joy to his wounded heart and allowed him to pick up his new best friend and service dog.

“I am truly thankful as it meant so much to know that so many people cared," he said. "Until I saw the love for the community I thought I was going to be another disabled veteran who fell to the statistic of 22 a day as there were quite a few dark days.”

The phrase “22 a day” refers to the number of U.S. veterans who take their own lives every day. Although data conflicts on how many veterans commit suicide each day, in the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report it was found that from 2001 to 2019 the average number of veteran deaths by suicide rose 4.5-percent, from 16.4 in 2001 to 17.2 in 2019.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6619 Kaniksu St., Rm 19
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016
Sign up for breaking news alerts