Frequently Asked Questions

The organization was founded in 2011 by Shari Duval, a mother who saw how a Service Dog benefitted her son who had returned from civilian duty in Iraq.

We are determined to end Veteran suicide by providing highly trained Service Dogs to military Veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. With the majority of dogs being rescues, our innovative program allows the K9/Warrior team to build an unwavering bond that facilitates their collective healing and recovery.

We have four locations in two states. Our headquarters is located in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and nearby is our Davis Family Mega Kennel location. In San Antonio, TX we have the Petco Love K9 Center and a nearby Warrior training ranch in Helotes, TX.

The organization serves Veterans of all eras who suffer from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma.

There is zero cost to Veterans thanks to generous support from individual donors, grants, and corporate support.

Over 1,00 Warrior graduates since March 2024.

The three weeks of in-person training for Veterans is essential for their success, as well as for the success of the Service Dogs. During the first two weeks of our training program, Warriors concentrate on establishing a strong bond with their new Service Dogs and mastering essential K9 commands. By the end of the second week, they undergo a public access test to assess their progress. In the final week of training, Veterans participate in exposure training at various events, where their abilities as a Warrior/K9 team are put to the test. These classes are critical as they enable the Warriors to understand how to effectively communicate and command their highly trained Service Dogs before they return home.

Our waitlist fluctuates between 18 and 24 months.

Veterans have come to us from all 50 states and multiple territories to be trained and paired with their Service Dog.

It costs $55-75k to train each dog and it takes six months on average to complete training.

The majority of the dogs we acquire are through rescues which includes dogs from shelters, those saved from hoarding cases and dogs who are surrendered by their owners. We also accept puppy donations and acquire dogs from select providers. In 2023, 60% of all dogs acquired will be rescues and in 2024 we project the number to grow to 80%.

We heavily screen dogs before we bring them into our program to ensure they are in good health and temperament. Despite these efforts, some dogs don’t make it due to changes in their medical and behavioral condition or a general lack of response to training.  When this happens, we work to see if the dog might be a good fit for our Station Dog program or work with first responders in jobs like search and rescue. If they are not a good fit there, we place them up for adoption with loving families. Those adoptions are free, and we do not return dogs to shelters.

Since 2019, 75% of our Service Dog graduates are rescues.

In earlier years, we averaged 120 a year because we did not have enough kennel space to house more dogs. Today, our numbers have grown drastically due to increased kennel capacity. We now rescue on average between 200-300 dogs a year. 

As of 2023, we have saved more than 2,000 dogs.

Since the founding of our organization, our Assistance Dogs International accredited program has led to an 87% success rate in pairing Warriors with Service Dogs. Unfortunately, not all pairings work out after graduation. Sometimes Warriors return dogs and other times we may retrieve a dog. Reasons include:

  • improper care
  • regression in training
  • poor home environment
  • financial burden to Warrior
  • not an ideal pairing 

The majority of our dogs are rescues because its core to our mission, but they take longer to train so we supplement our K9 lineup with purpose-bred dogs who have training before arriving to K9s. This allows us to serve more Veterans and ensures we do not extend our waitlist. We believe this saves lives.

We are accredited through Assistance Dogs International, the leader in Service Dog accreditation. Every K9s For Warriors Service Dog must pass a stringent skills and public access test before they and their Warrior can graduate from our program.

Since 2019, it’s close to 600 dogs.

The Northeast Florida Fire Watch Council (“the Fire Watch Council”) was founded as a result of PREVENTS (the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide), a Presidential Executive Order from 2019 creating a national public health strategy to address Veteran suicide.

It was comprised of state, local (Baker County, Clay County, Nassau County, St. Johns County, and the City of Jacksonville) and community agencies.  Each governmental entity contributed startup donations, and K9s offered to cover staffing and technology expenses because the mission aligned with ours. This support by K9s was memorialized by an employee on loan (EOL) agreement prepared by the City General Counsel’s Office. Nick Howland was that employee on loan and went on to become the Executive Director of the Fire Watch, which later became its own 501(c)(3) so it could continue operating, raise funds, and be self-sustaining, which it is now. K9s’ financial support ended in 2022 when the Fire Watch became self-sustaining.

For years, K9s For Warriors has worked with the OHAIRE Lab, which is now part of the University of Arizona’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The lab collaborates with organizations like K9s to evaluate the effects of Service Dogs on Veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma (MST) and their partners/spouses.

Early findings suggest Service Dogs provide unique benefits to veterans with trauma. More research is currently underway with our Warrior graduates and those on our waiting list. Limited empirical data on the topic exists. K9s is at the forefront of this important research designed to better understand the efficacy of Service Dogs.

The Research Institute was an independent 501(c)(3) founded by K9s For Warriors in 2016 with the purpose of conducting and coordinating scientific research on the efficacy of Service Dog use to mitigate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress suffered by veterans. 

Through the generous financial support of Merrick Pet Care and Bayer Animal Health (now Elanco), the Research Institute was able to help fund research conducted by the OHAIRE Lab. 

In addition to those program expenses, the Research Institute and its employees supported education and awareness of factors causing veteran suicide, the federal PAWS Act, and other legislative initiatives to address veteran suicide.  

The organization was dissolved on March 1, 2022, by Board Resolution, and merged into K9s For Warriors to promote efficiencies and consolidate financial statements. 

Select research studies can be found here.

In May 2022, voters in San Antonio approved $2.25M in bond money that will help us expand our Petco Love K9 Center. K9s has not currently received any of the bond funds. To be eligible, K9s must show it has raised a minimum of $2.25M in matching dollars by the end of the 2025 bond period.

Request A Tour

Thank you for your interest in touring our National Headquarters in Ponte Vedra, FL. K9s For Warriors is a residential training facility. Our Warriors live on our campus for 21 days while learning to work with their new Service Dogs. To respect our Warriors privacy, we are unable to accommodate field trips, large group outings, and large parties. Additionally, some of the tour information may not be suitable for children.

Adoptable Dog Waitlist

Thank you for your interest in adopting one of our dogs. We hope that your perfect fit becomes available soon! Please fill out the application below – and our Adoption Team will add you to our waitlist. 

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Station Dog Information Request

If you would like to inquire about the K9s For Warriors Station Dog Program, please share with us the following information:

Agency Point of Contact
General Questions
Handler Information
Contact Information
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