Serving in the military can take a physical and emotional toll on a person. That’s why specially trained service dogs that help with PTSD, physical disabilities, and other acquired conditions are so valuable to a veteran lucky enough to have one.
Semper K9, a Virginia non-profit, rescues dogs and trains them as service animals for veterans. These deserving veterans receive their fully trained assistance dogs at no cost. They bring vital support to the lives of America’s bravest.
Chloe Provides Her Handler With Stability
Jessica Rudd is one of those grateful veterans who got her service dog through Semper K9. Rudd served in the U.S. Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq in 2008. She now suffers from PTSD.
Chloe, her service dog, helps Rudd manage both her physical and mental health. As she told ABC 7:
“She’s helped during the pandemic because she’s helped me have a healthy mindset and physical activity. We run together 2-3 times a week. She’s my ride or die when it comes to running. She can see when I’m off my baseline – trying to be next to me. Just simple tactile stimulation.”
Rudd and her husband, also in the Marine Corps, have three children. Rudd’s husband was deployed to Afghanistan during the evacuation in 2021, and Chloe’s assistance helped her stay strong during that uncertain time.
“Just having her here, just the presence of a dog there’s a calmness to her. It helps in my day-to-day life.”
Chloe accompanies her handler everywhere and is always around in case she’s needed. Her training equips her to handle emergencies anywhere.
“I feel more certainty because there’s a lot we don’t have control over but I know she’s always going to be here with me. I can take her places. She goes to family dinners with us, restaurants with us, travels with us. She knows the drill. If anything, there’s peace of mind.”
The Demand For Service Dogs Is On The Rise
Rudd and Chloe’s story is just one example of how much a service dog can improve a veteran’s life. As she explained it:
“I’m super thankful for Semper K9 to give this opportunity. I didn’t know how much I needed her until I had her. It was an alternative medication kind of thing it was worth exploring and I’m very glad we did it.”
Christopher Baity, co-founder and executive director of Semper K9, told ABC 7 the organization’s waitlist for trained K9s went from one to four years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of the things are bringing out anxiety bringing out stress and exasperating symptoms with their post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury or whatever their disability is. We also saw an increase in veterans and people in general applying for service dogs. Organizations across the country are met with that challenge of meeting the increase in applicants and individuals seeking service dogs.”
To meet increasing demand, Semper K9 is seeking donations and trainers. Learn more about the organization and its important work on their website.