Help a Hero: Retired Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputy in need of a service animal

Michelle Hoffman by is licensed under
SACRAMENTO, CA – We would like to introduce you to Michelle Hoffman, a 12-year veteran of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

On track to become a detective, she had hoped to move into the homicide division once she passed her exam. Sadly, multiple knee and back injuries have led to the end of her career very prematurely and stopped her short of obtaining that goal.

Now, she struggles with many everyday tasks that most of us take for granted. To complicate matters, Michelle was recently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress following the loss of several of her co-workers in the line of duty.

On August 30, 2017 Bob French was killed in the line of duty. “Bob was someone I often saw at the station because he worked days and I worked graves. We started around the same time at the jail and frequently saw each other during our careers,” Michelle said in an email to Law Enforcement Today.

“I don’t know why, but about a month after Bob was killed, I started waking up screaming. I can never remember the dreams, just the horrible feelings I have afterward. I now don’t like going out in public, I don’t like people standing close behind me, and there are other symptoms of PTS too.”

A Help a Hero campaign was recently established to assist her in obtaining a service dog, in hopes of helping her cope with the daily rigors of PTS.

The campaign is seeking to raise $17,000.

Michelle has been working hard to ensure that her mom has been taken care of, all while dealing with her own health issues.

“Most people don’t realize that the majority of departments don’t help you retire. You’re left in the cold to fend for yourself,” she said. “That was me. I went with no income for well over 2 years. My department offered me none of the standard funds that deputies contribute to in order to help people in the exact situation I was in.”

She was an athlete most of her life, mainly playing volleyball.

Between that and her law enforcement career, she has had four knee surgeries, and is waiting to have two more. She is living with chronic pain that goes along with three torn or leaking discs.

“I’ve consulted surgeons who have all told me to wait until the pain is so bad I can’t stand it any longer, because once they fuse my back, there is nothing further they can do. To add to that, once you have bones fused in your back, the pressure then goes to the remaining disks which will also start to bulge and tear, she told us.

The idea of a service dog actually came to her after reading one of our articles about an organization called Steadfast Service Dogs

“I had read an article in LET about Steadfast Service Dogs before I was diagnosed with PTS. I started researching having a service dog to help with my mobility (can’t bend over and can’t squat down), and realized that a service dog could help me with PTS as well. I’ve been making regular payments to them and normally would be able to pay for my own service dog.”

Finances have been extremely tight as Michelle lives on her limited disability retirement pay while also caring for her elderly mom, who is ailing and currently on hospice care.

She is asking for community assistance to help her in bringing home her service dog, allowing her to make positive adjustments to her everyday life.

Per their website, “Steadfast Service Dogs is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. We provide service dogs to those who have a diagnosed need for a service dog, but cannot afford the entire cost of dog, training, certifications and maintenance training.

"Our Service Dog program is designed to provide purpose-bred, quality service dogs that are tested and selected specifically for each handler. Puppies are whelped in our family room, and we do not warehouse our puppies in kennels. From day one, our puppies have constant contact with humans, are socialized and neurologically stimulated continuously throughout the day, and are carefully monitored.”
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The opinions reflected in this article are not necessarily the opinions of LET
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