K-9s For Warriors
September 2, 2020
Army veteran and Lexington resident, Tanesha G. recently returned home with her new service dog, Spoonie. Spoonie is trained to help Tanesha manage symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that resulted from her military service.
On why she applied to K9s For Warriors, Tanesha said, “I saw a graduate and asked about the program. I thought it would be a great way to get me back into society and out of the house. I wanted a more independent life, one that allowed me to spend more quality time with my children, doing different activities and just enjoying life again.”
Upon arrival to K9s For Warriors, Tanesha was paired with Spoonie, a rescue dog from Kentucky Animal Control, who had already completed formal service canine training in the months prior. In the COVID-19 environment, the training program has been modified to comply with CDC guidelines, implementing new sanitizing and PPE protocols for all staff and Warriors. Along with the other members of their class, Tanesha and Spoonie trained in public every day wearing PPE, received instruction on matters of Service Dog access, dog health care and more, and established a bond that would facilitate Tanesha’s healing from military-related trauma.
K9s For Warriors CEO, Rory Diamond, explains the program’s mission:
“The rate of veteran suicide in our country is unacceptable. These are the people who volunteered their lives so that Americans can enjoy their everyday independence. But PTSD steals their independence, and worst of all, suicide steals their lives. K9s For Warriors is here to give both back to them through a new, loyal battle buddy – a Service Dog.”
K9s For Warriors is a national nonprofit that procures eligible shelter dogs and trains them to be Service Dogs to mitigate symptoms of PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and/or Military Sexual Trauma for servicemembers and veterans. It operates from two facilities in North Florida that procure and train the canines, pair them with an incoming veteran, then train the veteran and canine pair together. After three weeks with his or her new Service Dog, the veteran has learned how to reintegrate into society and, most importantly, reduce suicidal ideation.