Why (& How) K9s For Warriors is Keeping Our Doors & Hearts Open During COVID-19

 

First of all, we want to express our gratitude to you for spending some of your valuable time keeping up to date with K9s For Warriors’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We truly are all in this together and we deeply appreciate your solidarity.

As you know, K9s For Warriors must keep our doors and our hearts open. We have between 60 to 70 dogs in our kennels who still need routine care and love. Our essential staff who come in to feed, water, bathe and play with them are practicing all CDC and Federal guidelines on health, safety and social distancing. They continue to clean the kennels and canine equipment daily and implement best practices for both staff and canines.

Our dog trainers are still diligently training these rescues to become lifesaving Service Dogs for the veterans they are destined to one day serve. While we have postponed April’s warrior class, they will remain on our wait list, along with 250 other veterans who’ve applied to our program.

Remember, these veterans all have a diagnosis of (or a combination of) Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma. The stark reality is that many of them are at risk of suicide. Our mission of ending veteran suicide is why we must remain open and operating, to care for our canines and prepare them to be lifesaving Service Dogs for all the warriors on our waitlist and those still applying. We are doing our best to show America’s military heroes that their country is still there for them like they were there for us.

The veterans on the waitlist aren’t the only ones relying on us to stay open: we have over 600 program graduates who still need our services and support. This is where our Warrior Relations and Warrior Training departments come in. These staff – most of whom are telecommuting – are working overtime to check in on each and every warrior-K9 team’s mental wellness as they’re forced to isolate. While that’s the best practice for our country’s health at the moment, isolation is something Service Dogs are meant to help veterans with PTSD overcome. Isolation and social distancing are factors that can easily send at-risk veterans on a downward spiral towards worsened PTSD symptoms. You can see why there’s a delicate balance right now between doing our best for the health and safety of our country, and taking care of the health and safety of our veterans.

How are we managing this? Through daily emails, calls, texts and video chats with each graduate. We ask how they’re doing, how their Service Dog is doing, how their family is and if there’s anything we can help with. If they have a need that K9s For Warriors can’t provide direct support for, we refer them to our network of veterans’ resources that covers the full spectrum of what they may need. The same applies to other veterans or caregivers who may call us with a need – and trust us, those calls have increased since COVID-19. Part of our philosophy is to never turn anyone away empty-handed, so we treat every veteran and caregiver who comes to us with the same amount of respect, and we are thankful for the other VSOs who partner with us and work just as hard for them. After all, we’re stronger together.

               Speaking of strength, there are so many ways that you can continue supporting the mission of bringing two-legged and four-legged battle buddies together right now when they need each other the most.

  • Our “Ways to Give” page lists a dozen different ways you or your company can help rescue dogs and pair them with a veteran in need
  • Keep engaging with our social media and sharing our posts. If you want to tag us in something, please use @k9sforwarriors
  • Shop all the impressive merchandise in our new web store to show everyone your belief in the mission
  • Sign up for our emails in the top, right-hand portion of our website, or by texting 228-28
  • If you are able, we, like so many nonprofits right now, are especially in need of donations to sustain our program. Wonder where your funds can go? Here is a short breakdown that may help:

 

  • $500.00 - Initial veterinary care for a rescued dog
  • $150.00 - Service Dog vest
  • $100.00 - Highly durable, quality dog bed for the kennel
  • $50.00 – Kennel-grade water and food bowls
  • $25.00 – Leash
  • $10.00 - Binder for each class member's training materials
  • We also have an Amazon wish list for kennel supplies for our dogs.

If you have already donated in any way or plan to, we thank you with all of our hearts!

Above all, we hope you take care of your and your family’s health and retain a sense of community around you during these unsettling times. Our nation never pulled through anything before without first pulling together.

As a final piece of motivation, please see this short video from our founder, Shari Duval, known to all of our warriors as “Mom”:

 From all of us at K9s For Warriors, God Bless you & God Bless America.

 

Sincerely,

Rory Diamond, CEO, K9s For Warriors

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