When Best Friends Animal Society staff members pulled a pretty, golden-colored pit bull terrier mix from a busy Los Angeles city shelter, no one knew she’d soon find her true calling – twice.

Chata the dog’s incredibly sweet and calm demeanor made her stand out to one adopter in search of a therapy dog to bring to school where she worked with special-needs children.

Chata went home with the adopter, got certified as a therapy dog and it looked as though she’d found her forever home. But then her adopter was transferred to a different school, one that did not allow pit bull terriers.

Her adopter knew the dog thrived in her therapeutic role and didn’t want her to stay home all day, deprived of doing the service work she loved, so she took Chata back to the Best Friends adoption center to be matched up with someone who needed her.

One week after Chata returned, military veteran Joseph Stanberry came in looking for an emotional support dog. Best Friends adoption specialists immediately told him about Chata, but there was a problem. Joseph’s heart was set on a Labrador retriever, like the one he’d grown up with, but he couldn’t find one that really tugged at his heartstrings. So, he agreed to meet Chata.

When she entered the room where Joseph was waiting, she immediately walked up to him, sat down and let him pet her. Upon meeting her, Joseph said, “I just felt like I couldn’t leave there without her.” Chata was the one.

vet-w-Pit-Bull-Therapy-Dog-JosephStanberrycourtesyBestFriendsJoseph took his new dog home, complete with the service vest she’d earned. He renamed her Summer and enrolled her in a training program for dogs and veterans. It turns out, Summer’s line of duty is just being herself. “She helps me with anxiety and depression. I’m also going to have her trained to help me hear (better), because I have a significant amount of hearing loss due to the military explosions and gunfire.”

Summer now accompanies Joseph nearly everywhere, bringing a sense of calm and duty wherever they go. When Joseph stops, she halts and awaits marching orders from her captain.

Learn more about how Best Friends helps pets at their website,

Photos courtesy of Joseph Stanberry

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