As part of its Thank Our Heroes campaign, AT&T has teamed up with K9s For Warriors in Florida to support the nonprofit's efforts in serving active duty military personnel, veterans and their families. AT&T made a $35,000 contribution to the organization, which is headquartered in Ponte Vedra.
The donation is part of a $500,000 contribution from AT&T supporting veterans' organizations across the country this November. The goal of K9s For Warriors is to empower veterans and help them return to civilian life with dignity and independence.
About K9's For Warriors
Headquartered in Ponte Vedra, the organization provides service nationwide. K9's For Warriors acquires dogs from various parts of the country and has warrior-dog teams in 43 states plus Puerto Rico. The goal is to empower veterans and help them return to civilian life with dignity and independence.
K9s For Warriors trains dogs the majority of which come from rescue shelters or are owner-surrendered to be service canines for post-9/11 service members with the invisible wounds of war (post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma).
Shari Duval founded the organization in 2011 after her son, Brett Simon, a former police officer who worked as an Army contractor in Iraq handling bomb dogs, returned home with PTSD. Following months of research on PTSD and related disabilities, she found that a properly trained service dog was a viable therapeutic alternative for her son. She was determined to help other warriors by training and providing service dogs to assist them in their return to civilian life. She started in her home with her son handling the K9 operations, relocated the operation to a couple of different houses for a few years, and about two years ago moved to our current state-of-the-art facility built on donated land outside Ponte Vedra. K9s For Warriors has rescued nearly 750 dogs and paired 367 warrior-dog teams.
Each dog utilized in the program is carefully selected and extensively trained by a professional kennel staff to become a service dog for an American hero. Canine trainers work with each dog for several months, teaching them basic and complex skills required for service animal work. Trainers will match the skills of a dog to the needs and unique characteristics of a warrior, including assistance with mobility, energy level, family or other animals in the home. If a dog does not make it through the program (roughly 20 to 25 percent wash out), K9s For Warriors will find it a loving home.
The in-house program provides each warrior with 120 hours of hands-on training with professional canine and warrior trainers. The program includes public access testing, service canine equipment, seminars, veterinary care, meals and housing, all at no cost to the warrior. Each month, a cohort of 10 to 12 warriors stays together in the residential facility where they train continuously with their service dogs. During the residential stay, warriors meet, train, and live with their new dogs under the close supervision of the canine operations team.
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