What We Do
Why We Do It
What We Do
We empower and support our veterans by providing service dogs to mitigate the effects of PTSD, as well as to assist with a wide range of physical challenges.
We not only save dogs’ lives, we give them a new path in life. They, in turn, inspire and empower those they touch along their K9s For Camo journey.
Our OCC trainers gain marketable occupational experience, as well as develop life skills that enable them to choose better paths for their future.
Watch our K9s For Camo
as they prepare to report for duty
We Help Veterans
Scot and Liberty, looking toward their new future
K9s For Camo provides service dogs to support veterans with a wide range of needs. Most of our veterans suffer from PTSD, but we also train K9s to provide support for other challenges, including mobility assistance, seizure alert and diabetic alert. Our K9s assist their veterans with these physical challenges, clearly improving their quality of life on a daily basis, but the real magic is what happens beyond that: With their K9s by their side, we see our veterans empowered to move through life and explore the world with new confidence and security.
We also train K9s to mitigate the effects of PTSD. While there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence demonstrating the numerous benefits service dogs bring to veterans with PTSD, until recently there was little research to back it up. A Purdue University study, released in 2018, evaluated the effect service dogs have on the mental health of veterans with PTSD. The study reported that the veterans with service dogs had:
- Lower overall symptoms of post-traumatic stress
- Lower levels of depression
- Higher levels of life satisfaction
- Higher overall psychological well-being
- Lower levels of social isolation and greater ability to participate in social activities
- Higher levels of resilience
- Higher levels of companionship
- Less absenteeism from work due to health among those who were employed
But we don’t need studies. We see the evidence first hand. We hear the stories directly from our veterans.
Change a veteran’s life today
Listen to Mark, one of our veterans, share his emotional story of how his K9 changed his life
We Rescue Shelter Dogs
Tank, ready to start his K9s For Camo journey
Approximately 1.5 million shelter animals, almost 700,000 of them dogs, are put to death each year. Most of our K9s For Camo were shelter dogs, some rescued within days of what, otherwise, would have been the end of their life. It’s easy to understand the reward of saving a dog’s life, but for us it goes much deeper. We see these dogs, once given a chance at life and a purpose in life, embark on a path that changes the lives of many people they meet along the way. It’s as if a magic in them is unleashed, and they pay it forward. First, by giving their inmate trainers a purpose in life, enabling them to learn valuable skills and life lessons, empowering them to choose better paths when they re-enter society. Then moving on to team up with their veteran, many of our K9s leading their veterans back out into a world from which they had retreated, enabling them to embark on new paths in their lives. Our veterans constantly tell us how these K9s have changed their lives, some credit them with literally saving their life.
As you see pictures and videos of our K9s and hear our veterans’ stories, remember, many of these magical dogs, who have changed and actually saved lives, would have been put to death if not rescued by K9s For Camo. Also remember, rescuing dogs is only one part of our mission.
Unleash the magic
We Change Inmates' Lives
Stephen and Mike, former OCC inmate trainers, leading an Advanced Certification Class.
One of the first steps in our training process is Boot Camp at the Ozark Correctional Center in Fordland, Missouri. There, K9s For Camo trained inmates begin intensive obedience and task training for our K9 recruits. The dog training program at the prison is beneficial to K9s For Camo in several ways. In addition to being cost-effective, the time the offenders are able to spend working with the dogs expedites the training process. Research also shows that dogs trained in a prison program have higher success rates than those trained in a traditional training center or home environment.
Perhaps the biggest benefits we see are those realized by the offenders. Current research and literature discuss the benefits of dog training programs in prisons. In addition to the inmates learning a marketable job skill, benefits reported include:
- Reduced depression and anxiety, not just for the inmates working in the program
- Decreased aggression and hostility
- Improved communication, teamwork and social skills
- Perhaps most important, reduced recidivism rates for those who participate in dog training programs
But we don’t need to read the literature, we have witnessed it firsthand since the beginning of K9s For Camo. Our K9s learn from the inmates, but the inmates also learn from the K9s. We consistently receive feedback from the offenders about the value the program brings to them, some have even credited the program with saving their life. Prison administrators also tell us of the benefits they see, not only for the inmates involved in the program, but for the overall prison population. We have been privileged to observe former inmates apply the lessons they have learned from our K9s as they make better choices, change their path in life and successfully re-enter society.
Change a life today
Listen to Stephen, former OCC inmate trainer, describe how K9s For Camo gave him a new chance at life
"Lilly has gotten me from always having a plan on how I want to end my life, to having a plan on what I want to do next with my life."
"I love this caring and giving animal and know he will continue to be a blessing to my mental and physical health."
" . . . he is my buffer and will not let me fall."
"The effects of Lilly were pretty much instantaneous. Almost immediately I felt happier and my life felt like it was not impossible anymore."
"I have been able to attend places and events I use to avoid with a passion."
"She has . . . offered me the ability to go out in public and live a happy normal life."
"That's what this program is for us . . . something positive that we have in a world of chaos and negativity."
"This has given me the sense of purpose I have desperately needed for years."
" . . . these dogs are giving back for the mistakes we made."
"Moose has taken away the stress . . . of always being on alert."