Columbus officer honored for his work to help homeless man turn his life around

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Officer Matt Dunbar first connected with Mike Miller over his love for dogs, and has since been working to help Miller get back on his feet (WSYX/WTTE)

A homeless man got a new start on life thanks to what he credits as the kindness of a Columbus Police Officer.

Officer Matt Dunbar is a 16 year veteran of the police force. While working special duty last month he met Mike Miller and they formed an unlikely, instant connection because of their love for dogs.

"I will be honest with you, the first thing I noticed about Mike was his dog. I'm really a huge dog person, " said Officer Dunbar.

Dunbar was working special duty at the YMCA last month when he met Mike Miller, a homeless man, sitting on the sidewalk.

"A few minutes into our conversation and I found out that Mike was homeless and one of my questions to him was, How do you take care of your dog if you're homeless? " said Dunbar. "That's when Mike opened up his gym bag and there was a bunch of food in the bag and a majority of it was dog food."

The idea that Miller cared more about his dog, Ms. Snookie, than himself struck a chord with officer Dunbar. Dunbar has a dog of his own and has even rescued dogs.

"That was the first thing and then the more I spent time with Mike, even though Mike's made some mistakes and screwed up in life, He's still a very decent human being, " said Officer Dunbar.

Miller's rough past includes being arrested, struggling with drug abuse, and homelessness.

"I've been sleeping down there by the river, up under the bridge and the sidewalks... wherever we could eat and sleep," said Miller.

But now thanks to the kindness of a once stranger, Miller's living in a motel room and working to turn his life around.

"I know the side of their police vehicles says protect and serve , it's like he's going beyond the serve, " said Miller.

Because of Miller's service, he was awarded the Bryan Hurst/Tony Luzio officer of the month Award for July. Dunbar has already spent hundreds of dollars helping Miller. There's now a gofundme account set up to help Miller get back on his feet.

Miller is looking for a job. He does have an interview with a manufacturing company and his hoping to be hired soon.