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Veterans Day is just around the corner, as is Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Pewee Valley Veterinary Center has found a way to link each of those holidays.
The “Joy to the Woof” campaign kicks off on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. The program recognizes active military members, thanks them for their service and provides them with a care package for the holidays. It just so happens that the recipients are furry and four-legged.
“The soldiers choose to serve in the military, the dogs do not choose,” said Carolyne Tilford, a veterinary technician at the Center who is also in charge of activities and outreach programs. “It’s important that we take care of them considering how many lives they save.”
Tilford and the owners and employees of Pewee Valley Veterinary Center started the campaign to send care packages to active military dogs last year. After much publicity and media attention, 10 dogs serving in Afghanistan were adopted by the center and sent care packages containing food, treats, toys, leashes and more. This year, they hope to adopt several more canines and undertake one very special rescue mission.
Bony is a 10-year-old German Shepherd who has served over eight years in the military, sniffing out bombs and protecting his handler, Sgt. Daniel Sandoval, in multiple deployments. He is near retirement and has been adopted by an area veteran who has owned retired military dogs before. Costs to bring Bony home will be in the thousands. And when he gets home, Bony will be well cared for.
“He has some health issues that the adoptive owner already knows about, and we’ll take care of his vet care for the rest of his life,” Tilford said. “He also needs special food, which our food supplier Royal Canine will supply for the rest of his life and our pharmacuetical reps are going to provide his meds for life.”
Tilford learned about Bony and other military dogs through Operation Kennel Mom, a non-profit organization that focuses on the health and safety of military working dogs and U.S. service members that would benefit from K9-focused care-packages. The packages are specially designed for the area of service and the kind of work the dogs are asked to do. Package contents include: soled booties, cooling vests, retractable leashes, collapsible water bowls, collars, nylon leashes, waterless shampoo, goggles, kongs, pill pockets, treats, brushes, eye wash and toys. Due to the specialized nature of the items, the cost per package runs up to $800, then it’s another $100 to ship.
“People can come here to purchase those items for the care packages,” said Casey Ellingsworth, a receptionist at the center. “Or they can donate money to help us pack and ship them.”
To get the second annual campaign underway, the Pewee Valley Veterinary Center is sponsoring a unit in the Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11 in Louisville that will include military dogs and their handlers. The parade will be the first of many opportunities to ask for support.
“We really want to get the word out in the military community,” Tilford said. “Last year this was just a little community project, we just wanted to get the community involved and it just blew up. This year, we want to do even more for more military dogs.”
“We want to help those dogs as much as possible,” said Christina McNay, another receptionist at the center. “They put their lives on the line for us and our freedom everyday.”
A selection of items is available for purchase at Pewee Valley Veterinary Center at 220 Mt. Mercy Road in Pewee Valley. Donations can be mailed to the center at P.O. Box 425, Pewee Valley, KY 40056. For more information, call (502) 241-8834. For more information about Operation Kennel Mom and to see profiles of the military working dogs the care packages will be sent to, visit www.operationkennelmom.com.