The Fostoria Area Safety Council will host Captain Louie Belluomini and his K9 Star at their February 19 meeting. The meeting is $10 per person which includes lunch and is open to the public and will be held at the Fostoria Learning Center. Captain Belluomini’s program, “A New Leash on Life, the K9s for Warriors Story” will outline his story and his journey to come to have Star, a K9 for Warriors. Captain Belluomnini will also discuss symptoms of PTSD you may recognize in members of your workforce, how to more effectively manage employees experiencing PTSD, the growing trend of service dogs in the workplace, accommodations an employer must make for a service dog and the employee’s responsibilities for their animal, how service dogs dramatically reduce dependence on medications and narcotics and raise awareness about veterans suffering from PTSD and the K9s for Warriors organization.
Captain Belluomini served in the Army for 9 years as a psychological operations specialist and military police officer. He was honorably discharged as a Captain in 2015 after serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Louie suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a traumatic brain injury after his deployments and had decided to pursue a treatment plan involving a K9 when medication and counseling did not completely solve the issues or failed. Louie and Star were paired together by K9s for Warriors, the largest K9/Veteran pairing organization in the United States. K9 for Warriors is a non profit program based in Ponte Vedra, Florida that connects service dogs with veterans suffering from the same things Louis does. Star preforms tasks for Louie that he cannot do on his own. 90% of the dogs from the K9 for Warriors program are rescue dogs. Their motto is “put a new leash on life”.
Star is Louie’s sidekick and is by his side every day. Star is a 4-year old golden retriever who
acts mostly as Louie’s bodyguard protecting him from any possible threat that would normally startle him and cause him to react in a negative or threatened manner. Louie has worked as a paramedic in the local communities for the past 13 years. He currently works at Hanco EMS in Findlay and as a paramedic at Putnam County EMS in Ottawa. Louie has worked as a flight medic and has deployed to Hurricane Katrina as a paramedic. Star is the first dog in the country to actively work on an ambulance with her handle. Since Star works on the ambulance, she is also cross trained to track and search for people in case they have a lost victim on a call. Star is also great at comforting patients on squad calls.
Louie and Star have been featured in a film documentary that was produced by DNA Films which follows their day-today activities along with 2 other, out of over 550 graduate K9 teams to complete the program. The film can be found on Amazon Prime Video or purchased at www.anewleashonlifemovie.com. Amazon has also made the documentary into a series where you can view Louie and Star’s story in episode four. The film has won 4 Emmy awards and 3 Telly awards.
Star and Louie have traveled all over Ohio and the United States sharing their story and spreading awareness and knowledge in their fight to see a better life for their fellow veterans as well as those with service animals and PTSD.
Louie married his wonderful and supporting wife Jessica in 2015, when Louie was struggling severely with PTSD, and together they have a son, Silvio who was born in 2016. Jessica has stood by him through every step and has helped provide awareness to the struggles that PTSD brings, and provides a voice for the struggles that loved ones deal with. She has been outspoken about providing support to the loved ones and significant others of the Warriors battling PTSD. PTSD does not just affect our Warriors but also the loved ones around them.
Jessica currently works as a nurse and case manager at Lima Memorial Hospital and has worked as a nurse for over 15 years. Louie and Jessica met when they were both working in a flight program together when Louie first returned from Iraq in 2009. She has worked in all kinds of nursing and is passionate about spreading awareness about PTSD in first responders and healthcare providers. Jessica has experience working in the emergency room, ICU and flight medicine. Together Louie and Jessica make a great team and although it is not always easy with PTSD in their lives, they lean on each other and get through it together forming the strong support system to get through the tougher times we all need.
The Fostoria Area Safety Council will be collecting donations for K9s for Warriors at the meeting. K9’s for Warriors is a nonprofit organization that works completely from donations.
There is currently an 18-month waiting list for veterans. Dogs are on site and available but donations are needed to send veterans to the site for training. Donation go towards saving the life of a dog and a Veteran. Ninety percent of the dogs in the program are rescued and twenty two veterans commit suicide every day, so you literally are saving a dog from a kill shelter and a Veteran from possible suicide. In addition, the council will collect items used at the K9s for Warriors facility; creamy peanut butter (unopened), large KONG chew toys, Nylabones, Jolly Balls (8″ hard plastic without handles), Petco or PetSmart gift cards, Magic Erasers, household items such as paper towel, toilet paper, plastic cups and utensils and office supplies including copy paper and envelopes. Financial contributions will be accepted in cash or check form. Check can be written to K9s for Warriors.
The meeting is open to the public but registration is required. Interested attendees may register by calling the Fostoria Chamber of Commerce at 419-435-0486 or via email to Sarah@FostoriaChamber.com The cost to attend is $10 per person and includes lunch. All Fostoria Area Safety Council members may send one representative at no cost. The meeting will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 :00 p.m. at the Fostoria Learning Center.
Learn more about K9s for Warriors