K9s For Warriors is dedicated to providing service canines to military personnel suffering from invisible wounds as a result of military service post 9/11. The mission of the organization is to empower warriors to return to civilian life with dignity and respect. Training at the Zoo gives veterans a preview of what they can look forward to upon graduation from the K9s For Warriors program.
“We are very excited about our partnership with the zoo,” said Rory Diamond, K9s For Warriors Executive Director. “This training not only provides our soldiers with a life-saving gift, but it also makes them feel supported by the community.”
Veterans travel to Jacksonville from all over the country to be matched with a service dog. They remain at the K9s for Warriors facility for 21 days. During thus time, they receive 120 hours of training while forming a bond with their canine companion. At the program’s conclusion, participants will graduate as a certified service dog handler. Hosting the training at large attractions like JZG helps participants prepare for real scenarios faced once home. Part of the training program is to learn to use their service dog to mitigate their symptoms, keeping them focused on the present.
“The Zoo is committed to partnering with organizations throughout our community,” said Janet Wesley, Director of Marketing and Development at JZG. “We are grateful for the men and women who have served our country, and are honored to host K9s For Warriors through their continued training at the Zoo. This ongoing partnership will enable future classes of service dogs and their warriors to train here at JZG.”