Amazing Program Saves Warriors And Rescue Dogs
May is Military Appreciation Month, where the countless men, women and service animals who serve their country are honored. At Global Pet Expo in 2015 and 2016, we met up with Bayer and representatives from K9s for Warriors and were totally inspired by the program. The programs saves Warriors and Rescue Dogs so this seems the perfect time to celebrate them. We are thrilled to share the exciting news that Bayer Animal Health will be expanding their partnership with K9s For Warriors by launching Operation K9 Care.
Battling PTSD, Trauma and Brain Injury
“We’re losing about 8,000 American military heroes each year due to suicide, which is heartbreaking and unacceptable. What these dogs can do for veterans is a miracle, and we thank Bayer for connecting us with the veterinary clinics and pet retailers that are helping to eliminate the expense of service dog ownership for our nation’s heroes.” Shari Duval, President and Founder of K9s For Warriors
K9s For Warriors
K9s For Warriors is the only service dog organization for post-9/11 veterans that requires them to live and train on-site with their service dogs before going home. The program helps PTSD, sexual trauma and/or traumatic brain injury victims return to regular life by providing them with a trained rescue dog. This pairing gives a new leash on life to rescue dogs and military heroes alike, helping empower them to live with dignity and independence. K9s For Warriors’ unique program offers 120 hours of hands-on training with certified dog trainers, housing, meals, veterinary care, training equipment, and peer-to-peer support at no cost to the veteran.
The program reports a 100 percent success rate so far, in suicide prevention in the graduates of the program, with 66 percent of graduates reporting a reduction in medications.
We had the privilege of talking with the Director of K9 Operations for K9s for Warriors, Brett Simon, at a presentation at the 2015 Global Pet Expo sponsored by K9 Advantix 11. Brett served in Iraq as a dog handler for the Department of Defence where he was exposed to traumatic experiences. Upon his return, he and his family noticed symptoms of severe PTSD. Together, they found a way to combine their love for dogs and helping veterans, founding K9s for Warriors.
We also met with several other veterans who made it very clear that their dogs have saved their lives.
Service Animals Change Lives: Stop 22
It is estimated that more than half a million US war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Each day 22 Veterans of the US Military will take their own lives and 22 families will lose loved ones due to combat-related stresses and injuries. (source : RAND Corp and other studies)
The presence of dogs has been shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD such as high blood pressure, anxiety, and stress. Service dogs not only provide love and companionship for war vets, but also give them a sense of purpose, responsibility, and routine.
“These service animals change lives. He gives me the confidence to know that I’m not alone anymore.” Joe Swoboda, Sergeant First Class U.S Army (Ret.) who served three times in Iraq.
Joe was diagnosed with PTSD and traumatic brain injury upon returning home from service. He was at his lowest point and felt that he no longer fit into society, considering suicide. Thankfully he found K9s for Warriors, was matched with a service dog and received the care needed for recovery. Joe now advocates for the program’s effectiveness at events like Global Pet Expo, which might have been impossible without the help of K9s for Warriors.
Rescue Dogs Rock
We love promoting and showing how amazing rescue dogs can be. The majority of dogs trained to become service dogs in the K9s For Warriors training program come from rescues or shelters. To date, 207 warrior/canine teams have graduated from the program, and nearly 300 dogs in total have been cared for in K9s For Warriors kennels.
“These shelter-to-service dogs and veterans form deep, lifetime bonds built on mutual love, care and devotion. Bayer is committed to ensuring that this unbreakable bond is supported through the routine and proper care these dogs need to do their jobs and support their warriors,” said David Van Brunt, Vice President, Companion Animal Product Marketing, Bayer Animal Health.
Operation K9 Care: Warriors and their Service Dogs
“Operation K9 Care demonstrates and honors not only our nation’s service men and women, but the dogs that bring the joy of living back into their lives.” -David Van Brunt
Bayer announced the expansion of its partnership with K9s For Warriors with the launch of Operation K9 Care. The program aims further support the lifelong bond of the organization’s graduate teams: warriors and their service dogs. The new program will provide free wellness care for service dogs aiding United Veterans with PTSD. This is truly a great cause that will better the lives of both military heroes and service dogs.
“Operation K9 Care is a program fully devoted to delivering compassion and second chances for veterans and shelter dogs alike,” said Bryan Foltz, a recent graduate of K9s For Warriors, with his service dog, Dell. “Bayer makes it possible for me to focus on taking care of Dell, who saved my life. Thank you to all the veterinarians and pet retailers participating in this nationwide effort to help veterans, as well as the dogs that are helping us, heal from debilitating disorders like PTSD each and every day.”
For the veterans who graduate from K9s For Warriors, their service dogs are truly their lifelines. Operation K9 Care connects K9s For Warriors alumni with veterinary clinics and pet retailers across the country that agree to provide free health and wellness goods and services needed to care for each warrior’s service dog. The program alleviates the financial burden or barrier of owning a pet so veterans can focus on recovery.
Veterinary clinics participating in Operation K9 Care will offer a free health and wellness plan that includes services such as:
- Comprehensive physical exam
- Diagnostic testing
- Fecal exams
- Parasite education, with Bayer providing K9 Advantix® II to help protect the dogs from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Read: How To Protect Your Dog Against Ticks
- Clinics are welcome to provide additional services, such as dental cleanings and other diagnostic tests.
Participating pet retailers will offer K9s For Warriors graduates with an annual $1,000 gift card for the life of the warrior’s service dog to help cover the cost of dog food, grooming services, leashes and other supplies.
To learn more about the partnership between Bayer and K9s For Warriors, please visit www.myk9myhero.com