Couple who saved guide dog inspired to help others

A Texas couple that helped reunite a lost guide dog with her worried owner is continuing to pay it forward.

Richard and Vernetta Fletcher began volunteering after they returned a guide dog to her owner. (Photo credit: NBCDFW.com)

Last month, Richard and Vernetta Fletcher of Garland, Texas rescued Anka, a 5-year-old Labrador Retriever, from the side of the road in North Garland. Unbeknownst to the Fletchers, Anka is a certified guide dog, and had been missing from her home since early March. The Fletchers picked her up only three blocks from where she’d last been spotted.

After Richard and Vernetta brought Anka home, a family member recognized the Lab from a news report and told the couple the dog they’d saved was a missing guide dog for the blind belonging to fellow Garland resident, Kiem Densmore.

The Fletchers were thrilled to be able to bring Anka back to her owner, and were present for the happy reunion March 13.

“I’m really glad to get her back to Kiem,” Richard Fletcher told NBC News 5 Dallas-Fort Worth in mid-March, “and I’ve made two good friends now — Kiem and Anka.”

While Densmore had been offering a $1,000 reward for Anka’s safe return, the Fletchers refused to accept it, telling Densmore they were “just doing the right thing.” Richard and Vernetta’s only request — to come visit Densmore and Anka from time to time. Touched by their kindness, Densmore was very happy to comply.

“I am so grateful to him,” Densmore said of Richard Fletcher, credited with grabbing hold of Anka the day she was rescued from the street. “He has a place in my heart.”

Densmore lost her sight in a 1999 accident, and she relies on Anka for both emotional support and for help with everyday activities.

“[I] just can’t imagine not having her,” Densmore said of Anka. “There’s a good chance I could not have her back right now, and I’m so happy.”

Weeks later, Richard and Vernetta couldn’t get Anka out of their minds. They were so impressed with the loving guide dog’s sweet disposition and keen intelligence they knew they would like to help other dogs like Anka. Inspired by the lost dog they’d rescued, the couple decided they would like to volunteer as puppy sitters for the Lone Star Guide Dog Raiser Club, an organization that helps raise and train future guide dogs.

It turns out their new role as puppy sitters really suits the Fletchers.

“You get to interact with them [dogs] and once you have your fun you can send them home,” Richard explains. “It would be like having grandchildren.”

“Being able to puppy sit, we’d be able to give back to the community,” says Vernetta.

For more information on how you can help the Lone Star Guide Dog Raiser Club, visit their website, connect with the organization on their Facebook page or give them a call at 1-949-637-9821.