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Former Marine Travels Cross-Country On Horseback To Help Veterans And Shelter Dogs

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on June 8, 2022

If you see a man, horse, and dog going on an adventure across the United States, it’s likely Matt Perella and his two furry friends. Perella is a former U.S. Marine who’s continuing to save lives in a unique way. His horse named Buck and his dog named Raffe are the perfect companions for his journey.

The “Three Amigos” are walking over 4,000 miles together as a way to raise money to help veterans with PTSD, dogs in high-kill shelters, and retired horses. Now, many people are invested in Perella’s journey and inspired by his kindness and dedication.

Man traveling with dog and horse

A Journey to Help Others

Perella retired from the Marines in 2003 after developing PTSD. He said his dog at the time helped save his life, and he wishes all veterans could have the perfect canine companions by their sides. So, he’s working on starting an organization called The Righteous Life Rescue Ranch, but he needs help raising funds to get it started.

The organization will rescue dogs that are at risk of euthanasia at shelters and train them to be service dogs for veterans with PTSD. The dogs will be donated to veterans struggling to afford a service dog. Perella also plans to take in retired horses and give them a comfortable place to live. The horses can provide therapy for anyone who needs support from the majestic animals.

Man and rescue animals starting journey

“I lost many friends to the PTSD battle. I wish there were more places that we can go to and squash these negative thoughts,” said Perella. “That’s why I’m on this journey and hopefully we can get dogs in front of veterans.”

So, as a way to bring attention to his goal, Perella is riding Buck across the United States with Raffe trotting beside them. They started in Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware and they’re making their way to San Francisco, California. They’ll be traveling a total of 4,000 miles, so it will be a long, slow process, but they’re hoping it’ll inspire people and help bring in donations.

Veteran cross-country mission

Perella’s Purpose

Once the trio completes their journey, they’ll earn a world record for a person crossing the United States on a horse with a dog. It hasn’t been an easy journey so far, but Perella isn’t giving up. He has found plenty of beautiful stops to camp along the way. He has a truck with a trailer that people bring to the campsites for him, but if Perella ever has to drive it himself, he needs to find a ride back to Buck to continue the journey.

According to Perella’s last updates on Instagram, they’re reaching the end of Maryland right now, so they have a long way to go. But Perella is still very determined because this journey and organization are dreams of his. He wants to be able to help as many people and animals as he can.

RELATED: Marine Trains Rescue Dogs To Support All Veterans

Man horse and dog posing

“If I just help one person. This journey will be worth it. This is my new purpose,” said Perella. “That’s what I hope to give these veterans with PTSD. A new reason to live.”

Perella adopted Raffe from a kill shelter, and he helped correct his aggressive behaviors in only four months. Now, Raffe is a service dog and the most supportive dog Perella has ever had. So, Perella is confident that he can train more rescue dogs to help other veterans.

If you’d like to help support the organization and the Three Amigos’ journey, you can donate to Perella’s GoFundMe. He needs all the help he can get!

Featured Image: Instagram