CHARLOTTE – Side by side, always within an arm's reach, Jeremy Petersen and his service dog Sadie are an inseparable pair.
"She pretty much keeps me balanced and tethered to reality,” said Peterson.
Glued at the hip, she provides a much needed sense of comfort and calm for the young veteran, struggling with post traumatic stress disorder after three tours in Iraq.
But the world Petersen is easing himself back in to, could be at risk.
The duo is gearing up for an important visit with the vet Tuesday to better assess a mysterious mass growing above her left eye, now about the size of a tennis ball. Expensive medical attention he wouldn't be able to afford without the kindness of a growing number of strangers.
"I just wanted the dog to be taken care of because the dog takes care of my son," said his mother, Denise Smith.
Desperate for help, she set up a fund through Wells-Fargo hoping the community would be willing to pitch in what they could. When the Charlotte Observer profiled their story this past weekend, their cause went viral.
In less than 24-hours, several local vets offered up their services for free all while thousands of dollars in donations began pouring in from across the country.
"Whether the government does it or not, there are a lot of people out there willing to help the veterans who have laid down their lives and have sacrificed their sanity and made the choice to defend our country," said Smith.
With the finances for Sadie's upcoming procedures more than taken care of, the family is paying it forward by using the funds to create a non-profit to help other veterans and their service animals.
They are working with Charlotte Bridge Home, a group that helps returning troops in the region.
"If I have the means and the ability to help someone else, I do it,” said Peterson.
To make a donation to the nonprofit, go to any Wells Fargo Bank branch across the country and pay it through the Jeremy M. Petersen "Sadie Donation Fund." A Paypal account also has been set up under the name of Denise Smith.