TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — PTSD froze Navy veteran Glen Hunt until he got help from a service dog, but a recent series of issues triggered a downward slide into homelessness.

Torii, a sturdy and perceptive Rhodesian Ridgeback, came into Hunt’s life as a puppy about 18 months ago.

Hunt said he and the 100-pound dog went through training that made him an invaluable part of his life.

“Gets me into what I call the big scary. It is scary out there for me,” Hunt said. “Sensory overload, lot of sounds, a lot of motion. Sometimes just the bright sunlight sends me into a panic. But he gets me out there.”

Hunt, 54, enlisted in the Navy right out of high school, but sustained an injury during basic training. He served about 18 months before leaving with an honorable discharge.

According to Hunt, the ensuing years brought both physical and mental issues he attributes to his stint in the military.

He worked in the computer programming field in the 1990s and later earned a degree in Geology, but in 2012, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Hunt blames PTSD for stalling his attempt to finish his Master’s degree.

Three years later, Hunt was homeless but he found a place to live in a transitional housing facility about a year later.

“PTSD had been slowly robbing me of my ability to do simple things for years,” Hunt said.

Hunt bought Torii for $2,800 in September 2021 and through training the dog learned to wake him from nightmares, anticipate his PTSD anxiety attacks and provide a calming companionship.

“He knew what was happening and helped me through it,” Hunt said.

But Hunt said a dispute with the housing facility where he lived led to an eviction and in March he was once again homeless.

Hunt said living on the streets and an ongoing fight for disability benefits with the VA pushed him to the end.

Hunt survived his suicide attempt but while he was hospitalized Torii was sent to an animal shelter prompting the breeder to take control of the dog.

The loss is difficult for Hunt to describe.

“I just. I can’t,” Hunt said fighting back tears. “I don’t know what to do with that. I really don’t.”

Torii’s breeder told 8 On Your Side she worried about Hunt’s ability to care for the dog after he was hospitalized and Torii was placed in an animal shelter.

She said the dog has since been placed with another owner but she did offer to give Hunt his money back.

Hunt still hopes she will reconsider.

“It’s devastating,” Hunt said. “I don’t have any children. He’s my little boy and he’s my service dog.”

Hunt is currently living with another local veteran as he looks for affordable housing and prepares to find and train a new service dog.

“So I’ve got to look at getting another puppy and replacing [Torii] and that’s gut wrenching,” Hunt said. “That’s what’s doing a number on my mind. That’s what drives the nightmares, the flashbacks. Everything is in disarray right now.”

The VA estimates about 7% of veterans have PTSD, but it is also under-diagnosed. One survey suggests almost half the troops who acknowledge they have symptoms seek treatment.