THE ORGANIZATION: Patriot K9s of WI (PK9s), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to training Veterans and canines for service work in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). PK9s was founded by Sarah Thuot in 2017 in Wausau, WI. PK9s trains disabled Veterans and service canines together onsite, and in the community, to combat the invisible wounds of war. The service is free to Veterans.
THE PROJECT: The Marching Forward in WI project will help PK9s continue to raise, train, and place service dogs with Veterans as Battle Buddies for lifelong service work. The grant will help Veterans do things many of us take for granted, such as attending a child’s event or going to church. PK9s would use the grant to expand the Puppy Raiser Program, ensuring PK9s has canines ready for new Veteran candidates. About 38 Veterans are waiting to be placed with a dog. In addition, PK9s is hoping to hire 2 additional trainers, allowing PK9s to hold training classes for Veterans and service dogs 5 days a week.
THE NEED: Including some surrounding counties, Marathon County ranks within the top five Veteran population counties in WI with a Veteran population of over 19,000. By pairing Veterans with service dogs who are trained to mitigate the effects of military PTSD, TBI and MST, PK9s provides a low risk, high-reward solution to the invisible wounds of war. Research has shown that Veterans paired with a service dog have reduced symptoms of PTSD and depression, improved work attendance, fewer reports of anger, less anxiety and improved sleep. Service dogs can be trained to perform many tasks including retrieving medication, searching homes for perceived threats, grounding handlers during a stressful episode, aiding with memory-related tasks and turning on lights during a night terror. These tasks lead to a veteran’s personal sense of mastery, and decreases suicidal tendencies. Every day, 22 veterans or service members lose their own battle on American soil due to suicide.
USE OF IMPACT100 GRANT FUNDS: Impact100 funds will be used to provide local Veterans with a service dog candidate, and provide the veteran and candidate with informal and formal training. Grant funds will help provide necessary supplies for the puppy raiser program including leashes, food, veterinary care, service vest, certification credentials and training. These funds would help offset the expenses related to the 16 canines brought into the program each year with the hope to add more canines. PK9s’ spends on average $5,480 to raise a puppy from 8 weeks until it is placed with its Veteran. While the total cost to raise 16 canines in one year is $87,680, they would divide the grant funds into $50,000.00 amounts over the 2 years.
FUTURE EXPECTATIONS / SUSTAINABILITY: PK9s will continue to be active in our community speaking on behalf of Veterans and involved at community events. To help with future funding, PK9s has applied for many grants from local foundations and The Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program. The service dog candidates placed with Veterans will have a lifelong impact on the lives of the Veterans that go through the program, allowing them to lead more fulfilling lives and become integrated back into society.
FROM THE GRANT COMMITTEE: “A Veteran working with PK9s is given a new sense of purpose and assistance to treat the lasting disabilities from serving our country. The people behind this organization are so passionate about helping this sometimes-overlooked population. This program not only improves quality of life, it SAVES LIVES.”