Meeting the Need: K9s Serving Vets

Bringing Veterans & Service Dogs Together

As a relatively new charitable organization, K9s Serving Vets is answering the call to provide assistance to challenged veterans. Their mission is to serve as the liaison between the Department of Veteran Affairs, those who have served and the community using education and assistance to bring Veterans and service dogs together.

K9s Serving Vets had its inception in Woodbridge, VA in July, 2016 and its main goal is to assist Veterans in securing service dogs in North Carolina and Virginia. Service dogs provide flexibility to Veteran with mobility, health and other life challenges. They are specifically trained and tested to serve the needs of each individual Veteran. The additional goal is to assist them in navigating the regulations of the Department of Veteran Affairs to nurture their new partnership.

K9s Serving Vets was founded by Kira Clark, a Veteran with her own challenges. Clark experienced difficulty after her medical discharge from the U.S. Army in 1996. Without the support of her military comrades she found it difficult to go out in public for fear of feeling uncomfortable. In 2003 she was introduced to Animals in the Military Helping Individuals (AIMHI), an Army program that provided trained service dogs to medically challenged Veterans. Her first dog was not a good match for her and her second dog developed a health condition and passed away. However AIMHI (led by outstanding trainer Pamela-Ann Jackson) found a perfect match with Sassi, a hound lab mix. Sassi was Kira’s path back to a completely safe life and a loving team relationship. Sassi provided emergency assistance and devotion for over ten years.

Kira wants the same kind of support she received for fellow Veterans with health issues. She wants them to avoid the missteps she experienced with trainers and the public. Some examples she faced were not hearing from an organization for two years because they didn’t have a representative in the area to perform the home visit, another the loss of her application and then she applied with another organization and trained with a wonderful dog for 10 months and just weeks before finalizing her partnership the organization refused to replace him with her. Many Veterans go through long wait periods (2-5 years) due to the sheer number of those in need and then some have twists and turns like Kira did and sometimes they simply lose hope and give up. Currently K9s Serving Vets has a strong working relationship with three service dog training organizations that will provide the proper means for a Veteran to become part of a new team relationship. In addition, K9s Serving Vets will guide the Veteran in securing valuable benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs, such as appropriate care for their service dog.

Creating and uniquely bonded service dog teams is crucial to providing Veterans with much needed support and assistance that can provide the care needed to improve their daily lives.

How You Can Help

The organization recently received permission to operate in the state of North Carolina from the General Statues of North Carolina. With this incorporation comes the need for volunteers, donors and grants. The goal is to support Veterans by assisting with the cost of service dogs which is over $30,000 through fundraising, grant donations and monetary donations.

K9s has two ongoing fundraisers that we’d like to ask the community to support. The first is the collecting of used and unused inkjet cartridges, old cell phone, laptops, iPad/tablets, digital cameras, toner cartridges, etc. that are sent to a recycling company that provides cash to the organization. The second ongoing fundraising effort is for family, friends and employees to shop through Amazon at smile.amazon.com and select K9s Serving Vets as your organization; a percentage of all purchases will receive a donation from Amazon.