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Service dogs visit local firefighters, bring smiles to those recovering from tragedy

After 42 missions, more than 100,000 miles traveled and countless hearts warmed around the country, San Luis Obispo’s Daniel Sievert is taking his service dogs, Emerson and Cooper, to visit local fire stations.

“I realize now that we fit into an area that has a great need, and that is second responders,” Sievert said. “People that show up when the hearts are hurting.”

Sievert lost his dog, Jake, back in January and recently adopted and began training Cooper. Sievert and his golden retrievers are the only members of their organization, Golden Missions of America.

They’ve traveled to help those affected by tragedy all over the country, starting with the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. They’ve visited communities affected by tragedies such as last year’s Sutherland Springs, Tex. church shooting, the 2015 San Bernardino attack and the 2014 Isla Vista massacre.

“When these two walk into a door with me, faces light up,” Sievert said of his dogs. “Joy just starts to pour forth.”

Now, Sievert hopes to bring hope and positivity to firefighters, who have been battling deadly wildfires throughout the state. Six California firefighters have died so far this year, and Sievert says those losses can be felt throughout the firefighter community.

“My mission right now is to visit as many fire departments in the Central Coast as I’m able to,” Sievert said.

He then sent a direct message to firefighters. “You are out there in the trenches, dealing with a lot,” Sievert said. “We just wanna give you five minutes here, five minutes there. Hey, we care for you.”

Sievert himself is a burn victim, and says he nearly died when he was electrocuted more than 40 years ago. Doctors were able to save his life, but he also remembers those who were able to lift his spirit and give him the will to start recovering.

“I was in flames, burning alive,” Sievert said. “There was no hope. I just wanted to die. I never forget the people in those shadows… because they would sit next to me, and they’d say ‘you’re gonna get through this.'”

He hopes he and the dogs can do exactly that for those suffering now.

Living out of rental cars and hotel rooms can be tough, especially with funds only coming out-of-pocket and through some donations. But sievert knows how much he and his dogs can help those who need it.

“When we engage the people, it’s an opportunity for them to know they’re loved, they’re cared for,” Sievert said. “And that we try to inflict a little bit of hope. That the future is gonna to filled with better things than just that one incident.”

To find out more about Daniel, Emerson and Cooper, you can visit their Facebook page by searching for Golden Missions of America.

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