Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Szczepanowski has been chosen from more than 70 applicants to adopt the 4-month-old Chihuahua who fell over 80-feet from a cliff in Ocean Beach, California early in January.
The dog now called Clifford was running off leash when he plunged off the cliff, resulting in fractured ribs, head trauma and many bruises. When his owners ran away, San Diego lifeguards rescued him and Animal Services helped him heal.
Animal Services Deputy Director Dan DeSousa explained why Szczepanowski was chosen:
John's been through some tragedy in his life and Clifford has been through tragedy, and he wanted to partner with Clifford to go back to other wounded veterans and say, 'I made it. This little puppy made it. And you can make it too.’
Now the little guy is going to be a Marine therapy dog, helping the Sergeant in his work with Wounded Warriors.
As a combat-wounded veteran Szczepanowski says Clifford will act as an icebreaker in his work helping other wounded Marines transition to life back home.
Having been chosen from 70 applicants, the Sergeant said:
It's given me another purpose and the ability to care for somebody that deserves to be cared for, and he's also going to be looking out for me too. Source