META, Mo. (October 18, 2018) — As many as 20 percent of veterans are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), meaning ordinary environmental cues such as sounds, sights, smells or textures are misinterpreted as the danger of traumatic experiences of the past. Service dogs can help reduce symptoms of PTSD,  so one organization, K9s on the Front Line, is dedicated to providing veterans with service dogs free of charge.
Jason Howe, founder of the K9s on the Front Line Missouri chapter, was one of those veterans touched by the organization. Howe served in the U.S. Navy from 2002 to 2007 and upon return to Jefferson City, Missouri, Jason struggled to integrate back into everyday life. After several years, the Gardiner, Maine, native moved home. While he was in Maine, K9s on the Front Line was recommended as a resource, and that’s when his life changed for the better. K9s on the Front Line is based in Portland, Maine, and has been providing service dogs free of charge to veterans since 2016.
“During active duty, your boots are on the ground in order to complete a mission, and you don’t stop until the job is done. Once I returned home, I no longer had a mission or a job to focus all my energy on,” says Howe. “K9s on the Front Line saved my service dog, Sobee, who was two days away from being euthanized, and they saved my life too. Sobee gave me a purpose to wake up every morning. And that’s when I knew I needed to bring this organization to Missouri.”
Unlike many other service dog organizations, K9s on the Front Line rescues the majority of their service dogs. After thorough assessment, the organization pairs the veterans and service dogs together for training. This means the veterans become their service dog’s trainers and handlers, allowing them to create a special bond and trust throughout the process. While they attend weekly trainings with K9s on the Front Line trainers, the rest of the training happens at home where the veterans continue to work on building trust with their service dogs. This gives both the veterans and dogs a renewed purpose in their lives.
After going through the program in 2017 and seeing firsthand what a positive impact service dogs have, Howe joined the K9s on the Front Line board and with the help of the board members in Maine, expanded the organization to Missouri in June 2018. Diamond Pet Foods had sponsored Jason’s service dog, Sobee, and when he opened the Missouri chapter, Diamond came on board as a program sponsor.
“Often a service dog is a veteran’s last hope. Our organization does everything we can to ensure success, and along with hands-on training that means providing proper nutrition for the dogs as well,” said K9s on the Front Line Maine founder Linda Murray. “Diamond Pet Foods not only provides high-quality food, but they care about our mission. We’re extremely grateful to Diamond Pet Foods for sponsoring the Missouri fall class of 13 veterans and hope to grow with them.”
For Diamond Pet Foods, K9s on the Front Line and Howe are inspirational.
“We are honored to sponsor an organization who gives so much to those veterans who have given to us,” says John Kampeter, vice president of marketing for Diamond Pet Foods.
The fall K9s on the Front Line class will graduate in December 2018. To follow the K9s on the Front Line Missouri, check out their website and Facebook page or follow the Diamond Pet Foods Facebook page.
About K9s on the Front Line
K9s on the Front Line is a fully established nonprofit organization providing trained service dogs to military veterans with service-related PTSD, at no cost to the veteran. The program is multi-layered and the most cost-effective approach nationwide. Superior outcomes, local community stakeholder engagement and socioeconomic integration are cornerstones designed to facilitate long-term success. All team members have firsthand knowledge of the effects of PTSD, and all trainers are active or retired police or military K9 handlers with decades of real-world experience. K9s OTFL also provides medical oversight, outcome studies and a positive group dynamic essential to kick-start the healing process while incorporating veteran recipients in the program’s sustainability and future. For more information, visit k9sonthefrontline.org or the K9s OTFL Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
About Diamond Pet Foods
Founded in 1970, Diamond Pet Foods is a family-owned and privately held company. As a leading manufacturer of pet food, Diamond Pet Foods provides a complete range of proprietary and private label products manufactured in five state-of-the-art and safety-certified facilities across the country. Our mission is to make premium pet food affordable because we believe every pet deserves the very best. For more information, visit www.diamondpetcompany.com.
©2018 Diamond Pet Foods. Diamond and the Diamond design are registered trademarks of Schell & Kampeter, Inc. All rights reserved.
 Purdue University. Study shows service dogs are associated with lower PTSD symptoms among war veterans. https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2018/Q1/study-shows-service-dogs-are-associated-with-lower-ptsd-symptoms-among-war-veterans-.html. Purdue University News. February 8, 2018.