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'It just totally changes a person's life': Local chiropractor helps provide veterans with companion pets

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Posted at 6:10 PM, Oct 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-28 18:21:41-04

SPARTA, Mich. — For many veterans, life is never the same when they return home from service.

And the right help at the right time can save lives.

One woman in Sparta is doing just that, and it's why Lori Vorpi with K9 Camo Companions has been named the Pay It Forward Person of the Month with Lake Michigan Credit Union.

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Along Sparta Avenue, inside a small office building, big things are happening.

Lori Vorpi adjusts spines for a living but saves lives on the side.

Right next to her chiropractic office, Lori also runs K9 Camo Companions.

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“I always had a passion for rescue animals and trying to save them, and I don’t like our euthanasia rate and shelters and rescues,” explained Lori.

But the lifesaving effort doesn't end with the dogs because what she does is pair them with a veteran in need.

“It’s amazing what the simple emotional companionship of a pet, and we place cats as well as dogs, can help do to just relieve the symptoms,” said Lori.

K9 Camo Companions pays for the initial veterinary costs and helps provide all of the basic needs for as long as the veteran needs it.

She knows the companionship doesn’t solve all a veteran’s problems, but it can help.

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“They lost all their buddies, they are spread out all over the country, and they needed somebody to be with and to talk to and to be there for them,” said Jeff Schlenz.

Veterans like Jeff Schlenz and Tom Plaska know personally what life could be like without a program like this and dogs like theirs.

“Being a combat vet myself, probably the worst scenario you can think of,” explained Jeff.

Tom said, “It helps them focus on something other than their issues. It gives them a good excuse to get up in the morning and give them somebody to care for, it just totally changes a person’s life.”

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Lori's work through K9 Camo Companions has inspired businesses in her community to give and it's passed on to her children.

“My youngest daughter fosters animals and my oldest daughter is a realtor and she works with Homes for Heroes and gives discounts to veterans and first responders out of her commission as a realtor, and my son helps build handicap showers for veterans when they become disabled, and it’s just a legacy of community,” Lori told FOX 17.

It's in that spirit of giving and paying it forward that’s why Lori has been recognized.

“I don’t do this to get any recognition. This is not about me, but if I can get the recognition, it helps my program and, even better, everybody wins,” Lori said when we told her she’d been selected as our FOX 17 Pay It Forward Person of the Month.

Tom said, “You couldn’t have picked a better person, she is the most deserving.”

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She says the money will go right back to the organization to continue its mission.

"It’s awesome. Dr. Lori is an awesome person with all the communities surrounding West Michigan,” said Jeff.

As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay It Forward Person of the Month, Lori will receive $550.

Know someone who should be our next Pay It Forward Person of the Month? Nominate them here.

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