Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, a non-profit that provides service animals to disabled veterans, will need to find a new home.
According to Semper K9’s Director of Operations Amanda Baity, the two-year old non-profit must move from their current location at 14202 Van Doren Road in Manassas, that they were using to train the service animals.
“We rescue dogs from local shelters, specifically our rescue partner Operation Paws for Homes, and we train them to be service dogs for disabled veterans – at no cost to the veteran. When the one-year lease agreement was set to be renewed, that’s when we got a notification via email that [the owner] was not going to renew the lease…terminate the lease,” said Baity.
According to Baity, Semper K9 has been renting the property since 2015, and she and her husband and four children lived on the property with 10 dogs that are being trained as service animals.
In Semper K9’s program, the veterans come out to train with the dogs, as the dogs move through the program, and veterans are eventually paired with dogs that will help them lead happier and more active lives, according to Baity. Many of these veterans have been very involved with cleanup and improvements to the Manassas property, and are upset about the sudden move.
“We’ve got some people within our organization that volunteer, that are pretty upset about it. And just to get a 60 day notice…this is a lot of stuff that we’re having to try to relocate in 60 days, and not only that, this is relocating our family right as school is starting,” said Baity.
For Baity, the focus right now is finding a new location that Semper K9 and her family can call home.
“Heartbreak. It’s just heartbreaking that there’s – you could say there’s anger, there’s a lot of mixed emotion, but at the end of the day, you know, there’s no point to get angry about it…this is just obviously not where we’re supposed to be. It’s just heartbreaking because not only do we have to go through the process of relocating – and a lot of our veterans have post-traumatic stress, but some of them have traumatic brain injuries, which one of the symptoms of that is memory loss…and that’s going to be hard to try to explain…if we can even find a different location, because we’re having a hard time right now,” said Baity.
According to Baity, Semper K9 is looking to rent or use a space, preferably in Prince William, ideally with between five and 10 acres of space, so the program can expand.
Rick Bockes, the owner of the property that Semper K9 is leaving, offered comment about the decision.
“The bottom line is that we could not come to terms on renewing the contract for another year. The contract was a year contract. They wanted some things I couldn’t budge on, and I wanted some things they couldn’t budge on. It was a business decision, and I support what they are doing, and certainly want to do everything I can for veterans,” said Bockes.
Bockes mentioned potentially building a retreat facility for military families on the property at some point in the future.