Paw Platoon: Valley officer and veteran saves canine lives - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Paw Platoon: Valley officer and veteran saves canine lives

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An area police officer and Iraqi war veteran has a new mission these days: rescuing neglected, abused, and abandoned dogs.

There are times in life when we all need a helping hand.For Paul Poulos, after a decade on active duty in Iraq, that hand turned out to be a paw. The paw of a doberman named Gavin...

“As much as a dog can be, he would fill the gaps emotionally,” Poulos said. “He would make me laugh when I was nervous; He would understand when I was upset and he kind of got really close to me.”

Poulos dealt with a stressful transition back into civilian life. He works as a Boardman police officer where he is also an expert sharpshooter.  But it was the dogs, and particularly Gavin, who became the source of healing for him as well as an outlet for stress.  

After Gavin died suddenly from a brain tumor, Poulos was close to giving up – or, giving it his all. He chose the latter – starting up a nonprofit, foster based dog rescue group. He brought in folks he'd volunteered with at a Canfield boarding kennel. Of course, the group has its own military influence.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we do a military team?’ … And then it started rolling for me, because now I was able to think about it as something familiar,” Poulos said. “Let’s call it the Paw Platoon.”

Today, Paw Platoon is a network of more than 15 foster homes, a slew of volunteers and foster dogs from both the pound and the Animal Charity Humane Society.  Poulos said, he also communicates constantly with other rescue agencies.

“Because you can’t go it a long out here… when you have 1.7 million dogs being euthanized every year and we’re trying to do our part for campaign awareness through spay and neuter and the actual saving of the existing dogs,” he said.

Poulos and his wife Jen have five rescue dogs at home. Macy, another Doberman, has become, he says, his "second" best friend.

He's always welcoming in new dogs and helping them acclimate, since many of them are scared, from being abused or neglected.

For each of the dogs he rescues, it's a second chance. And a saved soul. A saving grace for both canine, and its companion.  

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