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Fresh start for dog that walked itself home after owner’s death in hit-and-run

Patch graduates Medical Mutts training (Provided Photo/Medical Mutts Service Dogs)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Patch may not know the extent to which his story has been treasured nor how many people have rallied for his future, but the two-year-old dog is described as an example of the unbreakable bond between canine companions and humans.

The mixed-breed with a brown spot surrounding his left eye as a namesake has been a central figure in awareness efforts within an Indianapolis-based organization that pairs shelter dogs with clients with disabilities. The non-profit, Medical Mutts Service Dogs, describes its mission as one to save and train rescue dogs to assist people in need.

Medical Mutts received Patch and national attention following a crime reported in Nashville, Tennessee.

The organization’s Director of Development and Marketing, Kelsey Burton, introduced Patch on WISH-TV along with the story of his owner’s death in May. Burton explains that the woman, who was visually impaired, was killed in March 2023 while walking with Patch.

“Patch was unharmed but he ran home and sat on the porch waiting for her. She had no next of kin and since we knew he had been trained to do service work, they (Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control) reached out to us and we’re training him for a new person,” Burton said. “Even with all of that trauma, he’s just a happy good boy.”

According to Medical Mutts, Patch’s journey of transformation and healing reached a point of celebration five months after the tragedy. Medical Mutts announced it completed months of intensive training to recognize Patch as a fully trained service dog in a ceremony scheduled for August 22.

“Patch’s story resonated deeply with our team, and we were committed to providing him with the opportunity to thrive in his new role as a service dog,” said Burton.

Supporters and members of the community were invited to attend a graduation event highlighting Patch and other service dog teams at the Delaware Township Community Center in Fishers at 6 p.m.

Patch at Medical Mutts Service Dogs team training (Provided Photo/Medical Mutts Service Dogs)