Paws of Honor, Inc. was officially created by the Director, Bob Youngblood in 2015, but the idea started long before then.
I was sitting in my office in McLean, Virginia at 9:37 looking out the window and talking on the phone to my wife about the attack to the Twin Towers in New York, when I saw plumes of black smoke rising from the direction of Arlington/Washington D.C. The Pentagon had been hit and I had friends and clients that worked there. One of my clients is the Pentagon K-9 Protection Force, and they would be the first responders. On that day, lives were lost and lives were changed, and I knew I wanted to help.
As the Director of Old Dominion Animal Health Center, we already had a working relationship with several DOD and law enforcement agencies. We actually treated many of the dogs that were at the Pentagon that day, and I was struck by the incredible bond the officers and dogs had, especially after going through what they had on 9/11. It was this ‘bond’ that planted the seed for Paws of Honor.
The events of 9/11 brought to light the importance of military and law enforcement dogs in our national and global security operations. These dogs are often the first and last line of defense in the war on terrorism. Everything from securing our airports, to detecting IEDs, to conducting missions that make the entire world safer. These dogs have never been more important than they are now. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t treat the dogs with the same reverence after they retire from service. Matter of fact, the dogs are classified as equipment, and once decommissioned, they are not afforded any benefits, including veterinary care.
The seed that was planted years before took root. I realized I could help by partnering military and law enforcement K-9s’ with manufacturers and vendors in the veterinary industry. Together, they would work for the common goal of providing veterinary care and benefits to the retired dogs at no cost* to the officers.
*As supplies and donations are available