About Veterans Assistance Dogs
Who We Are
As you know our veterans are committing suicide at an alarming average rate of 22 per day, which equates to one every 65 minutes. According to figures from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Texas Workforce Investment Council, there are more than 1.309 million war time veterans in the state of Texas. Of the over 655,000 Gulf and Afghanistan war Veterans it is estimated that 15% to 25% of those are dealing with a physical disability or service related mental illnesses. That is more than 90,000 Veterans in Texas.
Experience has shown that the quality of lifestyle for many of these disabled Veterans could be greatly enhanced with the assistance of a service dog. Once fully trained, Service Dogs are able to assist individuals with mental impairments and/or physical disabilities accomplish daily tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. Service Dogs can also provide companionship, security and emotional stability during often difficult periods of recovery from the physical and emotional Wounds of War.
We train service dogs to assist the lives of disabled Texas veterans suffering from physical disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST) or a combination of these disabilities.
This underserved group of Veterans who could benefit from and are seeking a service dog receive no assistance from The Veterans Administration with that need. As a result, a small number of organizations in Texas such as ours are receiving an increasing number of requests, and the gap between supply and demand is widening.
Kerrville Elks Charities, Inc. (KECI), EIN 453008956, was originally incorporated as a Texas non-profit organization on July 5, 2005. The corporation was organized for Charitable, Religious, Literary or Educational purposes within the meaning of section 50 1 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. It applied for and received its 501 (c) 3 designation on November 17, 2011. In mid 2012 KECI’s Board of Directors was charged with the task of putting in place a new, permanent program to operate under those guidelines as set out by KECI. It was decided to establish the d/b/a of Veterans Assistance Dogs of Texas (VADogs) as its service program focused on United States Armed Forces Veterans with Disabilities. It filed the Assumed Name Certificate of Ownership, "Veterans Assistance Dogs of Texas" on May 13, 2013 (Kerr County filing #19840). A separate Board of Directors directs all VADogs operations.
Now entering our 4th year of operation, we have become accomplished in locating service dog candidates, successfully training them and placing them with qualified and deserving Veterans. We have grown each year beginning with training only one dog, our first year. Our 990 reflects our continued financial growth.
During this period, we have developed excellent relationships with military fraternal posts such as VFW, American Legion, Sons of American Legion, and Military Order of Purple Hearts. Teamed with other Elks Lodges and the Nimitz Pacific Wars Museum in Fredericksburg, we conducted successful fundraising events. Military contacts such as Retired General Michael Hagee, 33rd Commandant of the USMC and Retired Major General Angelina “Angie” Salinas have embraced our mission and help with our fundraisers by soliciting funds for our cause.
Goals & Objectives
- Increase our Service Dog graduates to 12 during FY 2016/2017
- Expand our Kerrville / San Antonio delivery area
All businesses face a myriad of shifting constraints as they grow and the environment they operate in changes with time. In the beginning, we had a need for initial funding. Our training needs were met for the first 3 years by our Director of Training, Tammy Doherty, who developed our program for training dogs. However, even without much promotion, our waiting list for service dogs has surpassed our ability to produce by a wide margin.
To address this training deficiency we now have finalized arrangements with two other contract trainers and obtained the services of K9 Country Club of Bulverde, TX.
The project is to incrementally increase the number of service dogs graduated to 15 for the next fiscal year, 2017 to 2018. Revenue for this initiative will come from grants and private donations.
We have successfully planned and executed several fundraising events this past year which we will repeat again. Our “Battle Buddies Classic”, a Sporting Clay Shoot which was held August 27, 2016 at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio was met with great enthusiasm, with 112 shooters participating. Next year’s event is set for August 26th, 2017 and we are expecting a 40% increase in participation next year.