Bayer Expands Partnership With K9s For Warriors
Bryan Foltz, a recent graduate of K9s For Warriors, and his service dog, Dell
At Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., Bayer, which has headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, announced the expansion of its partnership with K9s For Warriors of Ponte Vedra, Fla. The nonprofit organization pairs specially trained shelter dogs with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury, and Bayer plans to further support the lifelong bond of the organization’s graduate teams: veterans and their service dogs.
Throughout 2016, Bayer will connect K9s For Warriors alumni with veterinary clinics and pet retailers across the country that agree to provide free health and wellness goods and services needed to care for each veteran’s service dog. The program, Operation K9 Care, is completely free to the veterans and ensures that all those who graduate from K9s For Warriors can more easily afford to keep their life-saving service dogs happy and healthy.
K9s For Warriors is the only service dog organization for post-9/11 veterans that requires them to live and train on-site with their service dogs before going home. K9s For Warriors’ program offers 120 hours of hands-on training with certified dog trainers, housing, meals, veterinary care, training equipment and peer-to-peer support at no cost to the veteran. The program reports a 100 percent success rate in suicide prevention in the graduates of the program, and 66 percent of graduates report a reduction in the use of medications.
“These service dogs are lifesavers,” said Shari Duval, president and founder of K9s For Warriors. “We’re losing about 8,000 American military heroes each year due to suicide, which is heartbreaking and unacceptable. What these dogs can do for veterans is a miracle, and we thank Bayer for connecting us with the veterinary clinics and pet retailers that are helping to eliminate the expense of service dog ownership for our nation’s heroes.”
Veterinary clinics participating in Operation K9 Care will offer a free health and wellness plan that includes services such as comprehensive physical exams, vaccinations, diagnostic testing, fecal exams and parasite education, with Bayer providing K9 Advantix II to help protect the dogs from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
Clinics are welcome to provide additional services, such as dental cleanings and other diagnostic tests.
Participating pet retailers will offer K9s For Warriors graduates who are local to their communities an annual $1,000 gift card for the life of the veteran’s service dog to help cover the cost of dog food, grooming services, leashes and other supplies.
Bryan Foltz, a recent graduate of K9s For Warriors, and his service dog, Dell, were on-hand at the media gathering at Global Pet Expo where Bayer announced the Operation K9 Care program, and Foltz shared his experiences of before and after getting a service dog.
“Operation K9 Care is a program fully devoted to delivering compassion and second chances for veterans and shelter dogs alike,” Foltz said. “Bayer makes it possible for me to focus on taking care of Dell, who saved my life. Thank you to all the veterinarians and pet retailers participating in this nationwide effort to help veterans, as well as the dogs that are helping us heal from debilitating disorders like PTSD each and every day.”
Kelli and Geoff Daniels, co-owners of Petland in Jacksonville, Fla., are sponsoring Foltz and Dell. The couple met Foltz and Dell for the first time at Global Pet Expo.
The majority of dogs in the K9s For Warriors training program are rescues from shelters. To date, 207 veteran/canine teams have graduated from the program, and nearly 300 dogs in total have been cared for in K9s For Warriors kennels.
Bayer first partnered with K9s For Warriors in 2014. As of 2016, the company has contributed more than $500,000 to the organization and saved 65 veteran/dog teams, in addition to creating Operation K9 Care, supplying K9 Advantix II, the official flea and tick preventive of K9s For Warriors, to each training facility, and giving each graduating warrior a year’s supply of K9 Advantix II for their service dog.
“These shelter-to-service dogs and veterans form deep, lifetime bonds built on mutual love, care and devotion,” said David Van Brunt, vice president of companion animal product marketing for Bayer Animal Health. “Bayer is committed to ensuring that this unbreakable bond is supported through the routine and proper care these dogs need to do their jobs and support their warriors. Operation K9 Care demonstrates and honors not only our nation’s service men and women, but the dogs that bring the joy of living back into their lives. Thank you to the veterinary clinics and pet supply retailers nationwide who have agreed to support this mission and make a significant, lasting impact in the lives of these graduate teams.”
To learn more about the partnership between Bayer and K9s For Warriors, visit myk9myhero.com.