Service dog group 'passes leash' to veterans
(WBIR - Loudon) Two veterans took home new companions Friday.

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs "passed the leash" to their new owners: Army veteran Ike Weaver and Air Force veteran Daniel Belcher.

New pups Nitro and Stryker will help the veterans with companionship and daily tasks like standing and turning on the lights. Nitro's new owner says his new dog will make such a huge difference in his life and he's thankful for the people that made it happen.

"I am so grateful to them and they're so knowledgeable; the trainers and the individuals who donate all their time," Weaver said.

"The need is so great. You see what these wonderful dogs can do. People have witnessed that today," Smoky Mountain Service Dogs spokesman Mike Kitchens explained.

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs estimates the cost of training and placing a dog with a veteran at about $20,000. The group does it completely free of charge to the veteran.