(NewsUSA) - For U.S. Army veteran David Crenshaw, K9s For Warriors means two lives saved — his own and his service dog Doc, a German shorthaired pointer rescued from the kill-list at a local shelter.
K9s For Warriors is the nation’s largest provider of trained service dogs for veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma.
“I was isolated, detached and hoping I would die in the line of duty when I reached out to K9s For Warriors,” said Crenshaw.
Crenshaw still remembers the moment he laid eyes on his service dog for the very first time. That day would change his life forever. He nervously opened the door to a gated yard at K9s For Warriors and found warm brown eyes with a ferocious wagging tail waiting for him. That was just the start of their forever friendship.
“Doc feels my emotions. He calms me. The bond has been lifesaving,” Crenshaw said.
Doc has even brought comfort to other service members.
“I was in a department store and a man approached me. He told me he was a United States Marine veteran before he dropped to his knees and got emotional. He told me he had been contemplating suicide, but this moment just saved him. If Doc can do this for a stranger, just imagine what he does for me and my family,” said Crenshaw.
K9s For Warriors, a veteran service organization, was founded in 2011 because of a mother’s love. Shari Duval watched her son struggle with the invisible wounds of war. She noticed his service dog made all the difference in his life, so she dedicated her life to bringing this therapy to other veterans. Twelve years later, more than 875 warriors have graduated from K9s For Warriors’ program, and more than 2,000 dogs have been rescued.
K9s For Warriors rescues most of its dogs from shelters and for six to eight months trains those K9s to become service dogs for American heroes. Because of generous donations, the organization provides these dogs at no cost to veterans.
“We have found through scientific research from University of Arizona’s OHAIRE Lab that not only do these service dogs mitigate their veteran’s symptoms of PTSD, they also simultaneously restore their confidence and independence," said K9s For Warriors CEO Carl Cricco.
Army veteran Becca Stephens said her service dog Bobbi — a bright-eyed yellow Labrador retriever — has done just that.
“It was like the scene in ‘Avatar’ when they attach themselves to the animal. That’s exactly how I felt when I took the leash from the trainer,” said Stephens. She self-medicated for years to try and get a handle on her PTSD and sadly considered taking her own life. All of that changed when she met Bobbi in August 2018.
“Veterans are the heart and soul of this country, and some of us feel like we are drowning. It’s hard because we’ve been trained to look out for everyone but ourselves. K9s For Warriors reminds us that we really can get better.”
K9s For Warriors’ mission is to save two lives — a veteran and a rescue dog.
“The support from generous Americans who love veterans and want to save shelter dogs helps us deliver on our promise. We are extremely grateful for the support because together we are making a difference in the lives of our nation’s heroes,” said Cricco.
To learn more about K9s For Warriors or consider giving, visit www.K9sForWarriors.org