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Army veteran gets new service dog, free training

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, August 14, 2012, at 8:07 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, August 15, 2012, at 9:07 a.m.

An Army veteran who lost his legs in Afghanistan in 2008, then lost his service dog early this month in Park City, has found a new dog and an obedience instructor willing to train it.

Ryan Newell of Marion said he found his new dog, a 4-year-old chow-shepherd mix named Arnie, at the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita last week.

Kathy Adkins, a nationally certified instructor from Haysville, said she decided to train the dog for free when she heard about Newell’s situation.

“He gave everything he could for his country, and I’m going to give everything I can to this,” Adkins said.

The two met Tuesday in Park City to work out a training schedule. She said that she, Newell and Arnie would meet once or twice a week for the next two or three months to train the dog.

Newell said he spent a lot of time in Chicago and Concordia while his first dog, a Doberman named Red, was being trained. He said it was a relief to know he wouldn’t have to travel far to train Arnie. He said Arnie felt like a natural fit.

“It’s a void that’s been filled,” he said.

Newell told Park City police that Red disappeared on the night of Aug. 3 while he was washing his pickup near 61st Street North and I-135. The dog’s body was found a few hours later on I-135, apparently after it had been hit by a car.

Newell said Red disappeared about the same time a man and woman driving a silver extended-cab pickup with 60-day tags sped away from the car wash, but Park City police have not found the truck.

Newell gained national attention in November 2010 after he was arrested outside Wichita City Hall as police were meeting with members of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church, a group widely condemned because it protests at soldiers’ funerals. Newell, who had two handguns in his car, was charged with a felony count of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, but later pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges and was placed on probation.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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