El Paso couple asking for public's help in finding PTSD service dog lost in Nacogdoches

Published: Feb. 24, 2014 at 11:03 PM CST
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Jaclyn O'Shea and Doug Murray
Jaclyn O'Shea and Doug Murray

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - There are service dogs to assist with all kinds of needs.

In Nacogdoches, a visiting U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan relies on one to relieve symptoms associated with post traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury.

Unfortunately, the dog is lost, and the owner is conducting a desperate search.

This is a lost dog story, but it's also more. It's a story of patriotism and Jaclyn O'Shea's heartache. It's the story of emotional support from a service dog named Shonyo. And it's the story of a friend helping another cope with one loss after another.

Shonyo's name explains a lot.

"She's named after my late husband, who was also a veteran," O'Shea said. "He committed suicide about 10 months ago, right when I got her. And she's been snapping me out of my issues that I've had."

O'Shea has post traumatic stress disorder. The former Army sergeant served in Afghanistan. Although she hasn't been through Special Forces training, she was assigned to a Special Forces unit, where she interacted with the locals and helped gather intelligence.

During her time in Afghanistan, O'Shea served with Special Forces and regular infantry soldiers. She said because the Afghan people were curious about American women serving in the military, they often opened up to her and other female soldiers more than their male counterparts.

O'Shea suffered a traumatic brain injury while she was deployed to Afghanistan. She bought Shonyo, a female blue nose put bull, to her cope with panic attacks.

"Screaming, you know. And it's really painful," O'Shea said. "And what she does is she just looks at me and stands on my lap, and I look at her, and I snap out of it. And it helps me."

Shonyo helped so much that she gained PTSD certification.

Also helping is O'Shea's boyfriend. Like O'Shea, Doug Murray retired from the military three weeks ago. The 16-year military police veteran suggested a road trip to East Texas to help the couple clear their minds.

"It did a 180 on us from what we were trying to do," Murray said. "We were just trying to get out of El Paso and all the reminders of what happened."

Within 15 minutes of after they finished the 16-hour road trip Shonyo disappeared from Murray's grandparent's fenced yard on the Old Tyler Road near the intersection of FM 343.

"Just up and left, and I don't know if something happened to her or if she's hurt somewhere because I know she would come home," O'Shea said.

The couple has searched day and night, distributed flyers, gained the help of the animal shelter and sheriff's department. The couple is also offering a $500 reward.

They fear Shonyo's pit bull breeding may be a strike against her.

"It's all in how you raise a dog and this dog has not been raised to do anything bad," Murray said. "This dog is my girlfriend's PTSD dog. She needs her."

"She's an amazing dog," O'Shea said. "She means the world to me. She's priceless."

If you see or know anything about Shonyo's whereabouts, you are encouraged to call O'Shea at (806) 340-4596 or (915) 667-0394. The Nacogdoches Animal Shelter and the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office are also helping with the search.

For more information about the issues that U.S. servicewomen are dealing with when they return from overseas combat deployments, click this link to a National Public Radio story, which includes an interview with a woman that O'Shea served with in Afghanistan.

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