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man kneeling kissing snout of service dog

Honoring the Dogs Who Heal Our Heroes  

“Thank you for your service.”

This is one way to demonstrate how much we appreciate our country’s veterans—recognizing it is because of their service that we are free, feeling safe and protected. However, some veterans need more than our words—they need a hero of their own to help make them feel safe and free. K9s For Warriors is here to serve them.  

Committed to Understanding & Preventing Veteran Suicide

Approximately 20 veterans take their own life every day. K9s For Warriors is committed to understanding the root causes of this tragic action and providing the proven support needed to save our veterans’ lives.  We know that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has serious, life-altering consequences, including suicidal ideation, anxiety, depression, broken relationships, and destroyed careers. Similar effects on our veterans also come from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). These serious diagnoses are often treated with prescription medications, which often provide their own set of complications. K9s For Warriors is working to provide research that demonstrates how service dogs can improve, and even save the lives of our suffering veteran community.  

Saving Veterans and Rescue Dogs

As the nation’s largest provider of trained service dogs to veterans with invisible wounds of war, K9s For Warriors is committed to saving two lives—the veteran and the rescue dog. The majority of their dogs are rescued, while others are donated, surrendered by owners, or acquired by select providers. To date, the program has rescued more than 2,000 dogs, saving them from abandonment or euthanasia and giving them purpose. These amazing dogs spend roughly six to eight months in training to be a battle buddy for a veteran in need. After the K9s pass all accreditation tests, they are paired with veterans who suffer from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma.  The warrior is then guided through the K9s For Warriors 21-day residential program so the warrior can bond with and learn how to use their new service dog. Of course, there is no charge to the veteran for this training.

Merrick Honors the Dogs and Those They Serve Through Continued Research  

To help ensure that our nation’s vulnerable veterans are able to benefit from a highly trained service dog, Merrick Pet Care continues to help fund important research with the University of Arizona’s OHAIRE Lab. This pivotal research is primarily aimed at finding empirical evidence to prove, what we already know, that service dogs do in fact help mitigate symptoms of PTSD among veterans. The latest study published in Nature in early 2024 found that veterans with PTSD who had service dogs showed healthier cortisol levels compared to those without. To date, OHAIRE Lab has already completed three studies that incorporate physiological data exploring how service dogs affect veterans with PTSD, from physical activity improvements, to sleep quality and others, like this one, exploring levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

Studies like this help to ensure policy changes are made so all veterans can benefit from the life-changing impact of a service dog.

While there are countless anecdotal stories of service dogs successfully being paired with veterans, K9s For Warriors graduates have testified before Congress. We invite you to be inspired by success stories on the K9s For Warriors website.  

As pet owners ourselves, we at Merrick understand the healing power of pets. That’s why we work to honor every dog every day by crafting our food with thoughtful, natural ingredients and research-proven nutrition. It’s why we are committed to thanking our heroic veterans for their service by helping them get a hero of their own.  

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