Louis Belluomini and his service dog, Star, on right, are welcomed by Office of Public Safety Director Mike Klear. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
Louis Belluomini and his service dog, Star, on right, are welcomed by Office of Public Safety Director Mike Klear. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
PUTNAM COUNTY — A full-time paramedic recently hired by the Putnam County EMS has a special partner that accompanies him as he makes runs.

Star is a service dog for paramedic Louis Belluomini, who started his new job last week. She helps Louis as he battles Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Star has been with Louis since September 2016.

Louis was in the military for nine years serving with the combat military police in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was diagnosed with PTSD after his first tour.

“I was given medicine but didn’t like the way it made me feel,” he said. “I always felt draggy and tired.”

Louis got married in December 2015. The following February his wife Jessica became pregnant. She was concerned about issues Louis was having with his PTSD and wanted to find another option besides medicine for Louis to treat his PTSD.

They heard about a program that matched veterans with service dogs.

“I had to fill out a 50 page application telling about my job, my problems and what happened overseas,” Louis said. “This helps them match and train the right dog with the right veterans.”

He said the program is all free to veterans.

“It costs $15,000 to sponsor a dog” Louis explained. His dog was sponsored by an Eastern Star/Mason Fraternity. The sponsor can name the dog.

Louis said Star was in training for a year before he met her. “Then I went down to Florida and met Star,” he said. “We went through training together.”

The Labrador and golden retriever mix was paired with Belluomini through the nonprofit K9s for Warriors. Star’s former owner was an active duty military member who donated her after being deployed.

“Three days after we met, Star woke me up from a nightmare,” Louis said. “Star and I were in tune very quickly. They said it sometimes takes six months for a veteran and dog to become in tune.”

Louis said Star can sense when he is having a nightmare and will nudge him awake with his nose.

“She also senses when I’m about to sleepwalk,” he said. “Then she lays on top of me and prevents me from doing it.”

Louis also said one of the important things Star does for him is to protect his personal perimeter. He said in the military they are trained to watch their back and their partner’s back.

“By having her I don’t have to every worry that someone is behind me because she is always watching behind me.”

Louis said most patients do not even realize Star is accompanying him on the EMS runs.

Star will get into the squad and sit quietly in the space between the driver and the cab.

“Occasionally if it s multi-injury run I can have Star assist my by bringing some medical supplies that are in her body gear,” Louis said.

Star is also trained to do rescue of missing children.

Louis said Star senses when Louis may be in an uncomfortable situation. He said Star will also hold his body stiff to assist as a brace if Louis requires it on a run.

Louis has been a paramedic since 2007. Prior to coming to work in Putnam County he has worked for Pro Medica in Toledo and Findlay-Hanco EMS.

He and his wife reside in Findlay and have a son.

Louis has spoken at nursing homes, 4-H clubs and other service organizations about his service dog. He wants to get the word out about the program that may help other veterans with PTSD.