Most have heard the phrase “who rescued who?” in the world of pet adoption, but in one war veteran’s case a cat he took into his home actually save his life.
Like many who have served in the armed forces fighting what our country tells us are our foreign enemies, Army Sgt. Josh Marino was left permanently scarred from his service in the military.
He suffered a brain injury in Iraq and had severe post-traumatic stress disorder. He was in so much mental anguish that he decided to take his own life.
“I did not want to deal with it anymore,” Marino said. ““I took out one of my knives … I wrote a letter on my computer and went outside to smoke one last cigarette.”
That’s when he heard a sound outside of the barracks at Fort Riley in Kansas that would not only change his life but the lives of other veterans who were suffering just like he was.
That sound was a soft “meow” let out by a tiny black and white kitten who emerged from the bushes.
“He just walked up and started rubbing up against my leg and let me pet him, I broke down crying, burst into tears,” he says in his short film Josh & Scout, a Mutual Rescue. “Maybe he knew there was something I couldn’t quite handle.”
Marino credits the kitten with saving his life.
“I stopped thinking about all my problems and started thinking about his problems and what I could do to help him,” Marino said.
Scout helped Marino learn that he could help care for someone and that he could let someone care for him.
He named the kitten “Scout” and began to feed him every day. One day Scout stopped showing up and Marino was a little heartbroken. Eventually, he started dating a girl and they decided to go to an adoption event and adopt a cat since Scout had such a positive impact on Marino’s and his wellbeing.
“All of a sudden a little black and white paw shoots out from a crate and starts smacking me in my left arm,” he says of spotting Scout at the shelter. “I opened up that cage, and I pulled him out, and I held him tight.”
Marino signed the papers to adopt Scout right then and there.
Marino says that Scout made him want to better himself. He started eating better, exercising and quit smoking.
Marino was eventually medically discharged from the Army, married his girlfriend, Becky, earned a master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling, and got a job with the Department of Veteran Affairs counseling disabled vets. He now tells his story about him and Scout to other vets.
“In my opinion, real men like cats,” he said.