Becoming a K9s For Warriors service dog is a more intricate process than most may think. Depending on the age of the dog, the journey will differ slightly, but each dog must pass several steps before graduating with its warrior. K9s For Warriors requires that the canine pass through these steps to ensure they're the best lifelong partner possible.
My ’87 Ford Escort was jam-packed with boxes and Hefty bags filled with all the clothes and George Michael CDs I owned. My mom was in the driveway crying softly; my five brothers and sisters standing at her side, sad and confused. Just a week earlier, I had been planning on living at home while I attended the University of Florida, a few towns over. But now, after one fight too many with my father, there I was – 18 years old, sad, scared, and furious – fishtailing my way down our ragged dirt road, heading for the sanctuary of my cousin Chrissy’s couch up in Jacksonville.
If you are familiar with K9s For Warriors, you may know about our dog sponsorship program. The revenue brought in by this fundraising method is impressive and with the price it takes to train one warrior-dog team around $27,000, each penny raised is very much needed. Donors who choose to sponsor a dog receive the incredible honor of naming the service dog they are supporting.
Ever since Fletcher High School’s Interact club learned about K9s for Warriors in 2013, they have been involved with the organization. When I was a student there and a member of the club, (now I am a student at FSU and an intern at K9s For Warriors), we set our sights on raising enough money to sponsor a dog - thousands of dollars. We expected raising this sum of money would be a huge challenge, and so we began to brainstorm.
Pairing a dog to a warrior is an intricate process that combines the professional expertise of both warrior and dog trainers. Each dog under consideration for our program must pass an extensive health, history, and behavioral evaluation. The goal is for a dog to maintain good health, so it will be able to serve a warrior without any complications. Most of the dogs that graduate go on to live healthy lives full of purpose and happiness. But, as many of us know all too well, the unexpected can strike without warning; it’s life!
Twenty percent of the 1.7 million men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD. There are many veterans out there that have not been diagnosed, so the number of those afflicted by the devastating disability is likely much higher than 1.7 million. The veterans who are diagnosed and seek treatment often cannot find an option that actually heals their wounds.
At K9s For Warriors, we are in the business of supporting our military and veterans each day of the year. Warriors from every branch of the service enter into our program, and showing them gratitude is always a priority. Because military appreciation month is in May, we would like to give you some ideas on how you can appreciate our heroes.
Mother’s Day is a time to honor the women who go beyond the call of duty as mothers. Shari Duval embraces the role of motherhood with strength and purpose. She is a mother to over 300 disabled veterans and the founder of our organization. After Shari’s son, Brett, came home from Iraq with PTSD, She was desperate to find an effective treatment method for him. Because Brett was a civilian bomb dog handler, Shari understood that canines had a profound impact on her son.
If you’ve followed K9s For Warriors during the last year, then you’ve probably heard about the PAWS Act. It’s a bill introduced last year by Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis, pushing the VA to fund service dogs as a PTSD treatment option for post-9/11 veterans. Although we are the nation’s largest and leading service dog organization, we simply do not have the resources to accommodate the tens of thousands of veterans who could benefit from having their own service dog. The need for this l
A warrior receives a service dog, trains, graduates, and then returns home with the dog. Once the warrior gets settled, he/she discovers in what situations the dog will provide the best assistance. Warriors are not required to take their service dog everywhere with them. K9s For Warriors does not enforce a policy that states that warrior-dog teams have to be together for a set amount of hours in a day. It is true, however, that a warrior can bring their service dog in any place the public is permitted. Many warriors bring their dogs to work with them.