K9s for Warriors to add San Antonio campus for service-dog training
By BETH REESE CRAVEY | The Florida Times-Union | Published: January 21, 2019
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — North Florida-based K9s for Warriors will expand its service-dog training program to Texas later this year, with the help of a $2 million grant from Petco Foundation.
K9s for Warriors, which trains and pairs mostly rescue dogs with military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma, currently has two campuses — in Ponte Vedra Beach and near Gainesville. The third location will be built in San Antonio, also Petco's home base, on three acres of land to be leased at the city's Animal Care Services department.
"The prospect of bringing our national nonprofit to San Antonio is thrilling to us," said CEO Rory Diamond. "We're more than ready to help the homeless dogs there find a new purpose as a lifesaving ... service dog. To achieve that, over the course of the next year K9s for Warriors will be engaging the San Antonio community to build a base of volunteers and donors to ensure our organization's success."
The San Antonio campus will focus on larger dogs, including 200 canines in city care.
"Collaboration continues to be the core of ACS' success and we're thrilled to have a partner to support our mission and help our country's veterans," said Heber Lefgren,Animal Care Services director. "K9s for Warriors has a big heart for these big dogs and we love that they will be saving a life to save another."
The center will be named the Petco Foundation Canine Center.
"We are incredibly grateful and humbled by the Petco Foundation's transformative gift to our program and their continued support of our nation's heroes," Diamond said. "This donation will be the cornerstone of our national expansion and will be the difference in our ability to carry out our mission."
Founded in 2011, K9s for Warriors provides veterans with a service canine, housing, meals, equipment and veterinary care during three weeks of training to learn how to use the service dog and to promote bonding. There are no costs to the veteran.
As of December, 508 veteran-canine pairs had graduated and 967 dogs had been rescued. The nonprofit finds homes for dogs who don't make the program. The organization is financially supported by grants and donations and volunteers help out at the campuses and raise puppies and foster dogs, according to the website.