Recognizing the tremendous need for service dogs among veterans of the United States military, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) has selected K9s For Warriors as its official charity.
K9s For Warriors: Saving Two Lives at Once
A nonprofit based in Northeast Florida, K9s For Warriors is the nation’s largest service dog organization for military veterans. We serve post-9/11 active duty service members and veterans diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Military Sexual Trauma (MST). These afflictions can cause a host of debilitating psychological symptoms, resulting in crippling anxiety, drug dependency, isolation, and ultimately suicidal ideation. The VA estimates 20 veterans a day die by suicide. Our mission is to end veteran suicide by giving warriors a new “leash” on life in the form of a highly-trained service dog.
To do that, our program trains service dogs to mitigate the symptoms of PTS, TBI and MST. Over 90% of the dogs used are rescues, procured mostly from shelters in Florida and Georgia, but we’ve also received dogs from states as far away as Texas and California. We also accept owner-surrenders. Our canines spend three to six months with staff dog trainers to prepare them for service dog certification. Puppies who are under one year of age live with raisers and fosters until old enough to start training in the kennel. Once their individual training is complete, they are matched to an incoming warrior based on the personality of both warrior and canine, and class begins. The pair trains together for 21 days to form their bond. K9s For Warriors holds 12 classes per year, and can accommodate up to 12 warrior-dog teams per class. This program design supports each warrior’s healing and reintegration into society by giving peer-to-peer interaction and group training.
K9s For Warriors has one campus in Ponte Vedra, FL, but serves veterans from the entire United States. Our program is completely free for participants, thanks to generous individual and corporate donors and sponsors. In 2017, we graduated 114 warrior-dog teams. We are on track to surpass that in 2018, also marking our 500th graduate team by the end of the year! K9s For Warriors graduates report returning to their families and communities with hope and confidence, re-entering the workforce, pursuing higher education, and more. We invite you to watch our most popular PSA, in which one of our graduates reads a letter to his service dog to thank him for saving his life: “Dear Captain.”
More videos are available here.