For this episode of Community Conversations, we spoke with Kira Clark from K9s Serving Vets, a non-profit that helps veterans get their own service animals.
K9s Serving Vets is an organization that helps veterans get all of the paperwork together in order to successfully obtain and certify a service dog, and they make referrals to get veterans in contact with organizations that train service dogs.
The organization started for Clark after having her own experiences with service dogs, following her work as a linguist in the United States Army.
Clark currently has a service dog named Coda, but she went through plenty of challenges in order to get him.
“Because of that, I thought I cannot possibly be the only veteran going through this. And that’s what we veterans do – we take care of each other…so I started working on fundraisers for service dog training organizations…I decided I should start my own organization,” said Clark.
While K9s Serving Vets doesn’t currently provide or train dogs, they can help make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. According to Clark, it costs $30,000 for a puppy to become a service dog.
“What we’re doing is, we’re helping veterans to apply with the VA (Veterans’ Administration) through their system, to make sure they get all of the requirements taken care of, because missing one step with the VA’s process can cause many problems,” said Clark.
Clark has found that while some people don’t understand the value of a service dogs, it can be life changing for veterans in need.
“I don’t know if a lot of people understand the value of a service dog. A lot of people, if they can’t see the disability, then they think ‘Oh, she doesn’t need a service dog’…just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening,” said Clark.
Veterans that would like the organization’s services can apply online, and a member of Clark’s team will reach out to them.
The organization needs volunteers to help coordinate events and handle social media. They’re also looking for monetary and office supply donations.