K9s For Warriors is the nation’s largest provider of Service Canines for post-9/11 veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI and/or MST. We assist veterans who live across the entire country by pairing them with a trained Service Canine, providing three weeks of training for each warrior-canine team to progress through together, and send the pair home as battle buddies. This is a massive process that requires all hands on deck, and we could never accomplish this without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers.
Our staff knows what our volunteers do and why it is so vital to our mission; however, we want everyone to learn about the value of our volunteers! Keep reading to learn more about each of our volunteer positions and the importance behind them.
What do K9s For Warriors Kennel Enrichment volunteers do?
Kennel Enrichment volunteers are responsible for the general upkeep, maintenance, and cleanliness of the kennel and comfort of the dogs. Tasks include cleaning kennels, assisting with bathing the dogs, washing windows and laundry, cleaning bowls, making sure the dogs have water, and more. They follow specific instructions regarding the care of each dog to provide them with individualized care and cleaning.
Why do they do it?
Kennel Enrichment allows our team to keep the kennels clean, smelling nice, and healthy for our Service Canines-in-training. It allows them to live in the best environment possible before being paired with their warrior.
What do K9s For Warriors Puppy Raisers, fosters, and campers do?
Puppy Raisers, fosters, and campers bring a Service Canine-in-training into their home for a varying period of time to care for it and begin the puppy’s training. These volunteers potty train the pups, teach basic commands, create good behaviors regarding the puppy’s eating and socializing, and even start public access training. They regularly bring the puppies in their care to Camp K9 for veterinary care, training classes, and puppy play dates. They monitor the progress of the puppy and report back to K9s For Warriors staff. Some volunteers even foster canines with a medical condition that needs special attention. Camper volunteers care for puppies for short periods of time while the long-term puppy raiser is out of town or in need of a break.
Why do they do it?
The puppy program allows more dogs to come into our program because they begin their training before taking up a space in our kennel. It allows us to take puppies and dogs that have been donated to K9s For Warriors that are less than a year old, when otherwise we would have to turn them away because of their young age. Puppy-raised canines come to our campus with an established foundation of training and so they tend to need less time training here at Camp K9. Medical foster volunteers allow us to continue training a dog that otherwise may have been turned away, despite being a wonderful candidate for service work. Our campers allow puppy raisers to have a well-deserved break and give our puppies exposure to different environments, which increases their ability to adapt.
What do K9s For Warriors Volunteer Ambassadors do?
Volunteer Ambassadors attend events in the community to spread the word about K9s For Warriors. These events range from fundraisers benefiting K9s For Warriors, to community festivals, to military health fairs. Ambassadors share statistics, stories, and action steps. Additionally, they answer questions, collect donations, hand out brochures and other merchandise, and engage with event attendees. In order to do this successfully, they stay up-to-date on K9s For Warriors progress and facts.
Why do they do it?
As more people hear about K9s For Warriors, they can get involved, volunteer, donate, or, most importantly, refer the program to someone whose life might be saved because of it. Our ambassadors have met people who decide to apply for a Service Canine themselves. Even when our ambassadors share with people who will not take tangible action, it is important that we share about what we do so that more people are aware of what our warriors endure when they return from combat, and how a Service Canine helps.
What do K9s For Warriors Cooking for K9s volunteers do?
Cooking for K9s meal volunteers prepare and deliver a homemade dinner for our warriors each night of their training at Camp K9. This can be done individually or by forming a group such as a club, church, or neighborhood group. The volunteers decide on their menu, purchase the ingredients, and then fix a home-cooked meal that includes an entrée, sides and possibly a dessert! Cooking for K9s is open to volunteers near the Nocatee main campus, or the Gold Family Campus in Alachua.
Why do they do it?
Not only do the efforts of our Cooking for K9s volunteers keep our warriors fed, but they also make the warriors feel very loved and cared for. This is a stressful training program, and the knowledge that our warriors have the support and best wishes of those in our community means the world to them. Additionally, as a 501(c)3 charity, it eliminates the expense of feeding 6-12 warriors every night and allows our limited financial resources to be directed to other areas directly benefitting our veterans and rescue dogs. The warriors really look forward to coming home after a long and sometimes overwhelming day of public-access training and having a delicious, relaxing meal with their peers at the family-style dining table.
How can I volunteer if I'm not local?
Become a Proud Supporter and host your own community event! We have so many great community events held across the country - from bakes sales and races to block parties and dinner galas, the sky's the limit when coming up with a great idea to generate enthusiasm and support for our Service Dog program for veterans!
If you decide at any time in the future to support us by hosting a community event, please register the event on our website here. Click on the “Register Your Event” tab found on that page. We encourage all supporters to register their event. Not only does this allow for any online donations to be made via your own personal donor page, but also, upon approval, you gain access to our toolkit containing helpful assets.
In addition, sometimes events come up across the country where we are invited to send a speaker to share more about K9s For Warriors. This could be a public speaking opportunity, or a spot at a vendor table. If you are interested in being contacted to represent us at events like this, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would provide all the training and information needed. We cannot guarantee that an opportunity will come up in your area, but we'd love to have your help in the case that one does!
For other ways you can help, please check out our Ways to Give tab. Be sure to also like us on Facebook and share any of our posts that are your favorites to raise awareness. The help of our wonderful supporters across the country allows us to continue our mission and give a new “leash” on life to rescue dogs and military heroes, and we are so grateful.