WILLIAMSBURG — Across the nation, there are retired law enforcement and military K-9s needing proper medical care to live happy and healthy lives.
Founded in 2015, Paws of Honor is committed to providing veterinary care and products, at no cost, for retired law enforcement and military K-9s nationwide. The nonprofit celebrated the grand opening of its new headquarters office with a ribbon cutting on Friday, June 23, in Williamsburg.
“These working dogs are often the first and last line of defense in the war on terrorism. These dogs have never been more important than they are now. Unfortunately, the government classifies these loyal dogs as equipment, and once decommissioned, they are seldom afforded any benefits or veterinary care. It’s not fair to put that burden on their handlers, who themselves are heroes. These working dogs deserve to be honored and taken care of,” said Bob Youngblood, Founder and President of Paws of Honor.
Frequently, when working dogs retire from active duty, often around the age of 10, all benefits cease, including veterinary care. This expense becomes the responsibility of the officer/handler/owner and can sometimes put the handler in a difficult position, wishing to care for the dog that has had their back or cared for their family.
Paws of Honor has currently helped more than 556 retired dogs with $3 million in veterinary care and products given. The organization has partnered with 26 veterinary hospitals across 37 states.
Kalo is one of the many retired working dogs Paws of Honor assists.
Matt Lenegan worked with Kalo, a retired bomb and patrol dog, for three-and-a-half years while in the Air Force. They went on two overseas deployments together, where Kalo responded on suspicious vehicles.
When Lenegan retired in 2017, Kalo’s service was not over. However, Lenegan made sure to file all the paperwork so that he and his companion could reunite when Kalo’s duties were complete.
“I’ve had him just over a year now,” said Lenegan, “He is super sweet.”
Paws of Honor uses charitable contributions from private and corporate partners to provide services and products for currently 309 retired dogs, at zero cost to the handler.
“The greatest reward of running Paws of Honor is to hear the stories of handlers and the bond they have with their dogs,” Youngblood stated, “It is something very, very special. That ‘bond’ is the core of Paws of Honor.”
Visit Paws of Honor to learn more.