Asm. Sgt. Andrzejczak's Dog Changed His Life : News Room : The Van Drew Team for Change : Jeff Van Drew, Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land

November 12, 2019 by No Comments



Asm. Sgt. Andrzejczak’s Dog Changed His Life


COURT HOUSE – While recuperating from the wounds he sustained from a grenade attack while serving in Iraq, Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak had access to some of the nation’s best military doctors and the unfailing support of his family. But, he says one of the greatest aids to his recovery came in the form of his assistance dog, Madeline.

On Aug 14, Assemblyman Andrzejczak celebrated New Jersey’s inaugural Assistance Animal Awareness Day along with “Maddy,” a yellow lab he credits with helping his transition back to civilian life. He said his hope is that the annual awareness day — set under law as the Wednesday of the second week each August — will open more eyes to the importance of service animals in helping New Jerseyans to overcome physical or mental disabilities.

“It’s easy for us to recognize the guide dog leading a blind resident, but we also need to take note of the therapy dog helping a soldier overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, or to acclimate to life with an artificial limb, as Maddy did for me,” said Andrzejczak, who lost his left leg above the knee in the 2010 attack, for which he earned both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with Valor. “For this one day, it’s these special animals who deserve credit. They see the wounds that others can’t. And they provide a sense of support that is so critical to regaining a ‘normal’ life.”

Andrzejczak said he is working with Senator Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Nelson Albano in researching legislation to ensure all service animals are provided equal status and protections under state law. He said that working service dogs, regardless of their human companion’s disability, provide vital support and must be recognized and protected.

He also said the awareness day should also serve as a reminder to residents to recognize a working service dog, and to allow the animal to do their jobs. He noted that many service dogs wear special collars or other identifiers to alert passersby to their status as a working animal.

“Maddy loves to get pets from children just as much as any dog, but when she is working she is highly attuned to getting her job done,” said Andrzejczak. “When you see a service dog, let that dog do its job. These animals are highly trained, and part of that training is knowing that, even when working, they hold a special place in the eyes of others, and that’s recognition enough.”