Semper K9 was founded by an OEF/OIF combat veteran to help wounded veterans. I think this is always going to be the best for any VSO. Having someone who truly understands about combat life & military culture is critical. After meeting Mr. Baity you will instantly realize he is the real deal. Being that their founder and K9 Program Directors are both combat veterans, military working dog handlers, trainers and kennel masters makes this nonprofit so successful. All of their directors and advisors are combat veterans, military spouses or have strong ties to the mission. I am thankful to have this nationally recognized nonprofit in the county that my family calls home, Prince William, VA! Semper Fi
Working with SemperK9 has been a great experience for our family. All 5 kids, my husband and I have all gone through training and work with our SemperK9 puppy. We have trained one dog already for her Veteran. It is awesome to see Casey be exactly what her Veteran needs. We have great support from the SemperK9 team and jumped at the chance to work with another pup. She is going to grow up and do great things too! Thank you SemperK9 for giving us an opportunity to help Veterans in a real tangible way.
Sometimes it's hard in the Veteran world to truly make life saving impact. Semper K9 Assistance Dogs has found a way to do just that. The dogs are only one small part of it. When you become a part of Semper K9, you join a family that is ready in everyway to make you apart of their mission. Semper K9's pups save lives and Semper K9's people change lives.
I have no words for how incredible this organization and its member are. When my mom came home from Charming Charlie's a year ago and couldn't stop talking about a service dog she had met and the story of the organization, I knew that it would absolutely deserve some of my family's time and money. What I didn't realize was how committed this huge extended family of people was to changing the lives of veterans through service dogs and just how much a part of that family my own family would become. We first watched over a dog named Kiernan during a period of time when her veteran was very busy with family obligations/a cross-country move. She came into our house and changed our lives, and it was at this point that my mom realized just how much she wanted to be a proponent of the work Semper K9 does. Even my dad, who isn't a big snuggle person or dog lover for any dogs beside our own grew to love Kiernan and the mission of this organization. Countless fundraisers, training classes, down and waits, and one very special German Shepard puppy named Chuck later, my entire family is involved in Semper K9 training. It goes beyond that though - dog people are special people, but dog people who care about a mission of helping other people who have served our nation are unfathomably rare and it seems that they have all ended up under Chris and Amanda's wings, making a difference one pup and veteran at a time.
I only started working with Semper K9 last year. I have met some really amazing people and dogs. The founders are wonderful people. I help when I can and they don’t make you sign up for a certain amount of time they just want the volunteers to help when they can. I am greatful to have met these wonderful people
Terrific organization. I attended graduation ceremony and was so touched hearing the stories from the veterans this organization helped with these dogs. I see firsthand as my neighbor trains her service dog and then the service dog with their veteran, helping them in their life. What a wonderful gift this organization gives.
I can not say enough good things about this organization. Very well put together and organized. They do a wonderful job of training and placing dogs.
I was introduced to Semper K-9 through my friend and neighbor who was fostering a Semper K-9 assistance puppy. I also had the opportunity to attend the most recent graduation of the service dogs . Such an amazing experience! You could tell that each veteran had a dog that was best matched to them that fit his/her personality. The bond of love between the veteran and the dogs was so evident. As the veterans told their stories it was emotional however it is so inspirational. The power that these dogs had to ease the suffering after the veterans returned home from overseas was awesome. Semper K-9, their volunteers, Amanda and Chris, all are doing such a beautiful thing for both the dogs and their veterans. The gift of a dog to a family, trained by Chris and his support team, is such an incredible thank you to those that served our country. I was able to see first hand some of the training that the volunteers and Chris's team does with the puppies. It is first class - the dogs are molded into the working dogs they need to become. It is such an amazing opportunity to see the journey, be a part of it, and hear the success stories and how these dogs have changed and saved lives. -Melissa Schmelzer
SemperK9 has been an amazing experience for me. As an avid dog lover and Army brat, it's important to save two lives in one.
My husband George and I adopted 2 Pitbull puppies that were abandoned and the mother had died. When my husband talked to his internist, she said he should have a service dog. George was in the Gulf War and 16 years in the Marine Corps. He struggles with daily with a wide range of problems.
We took the puppies at 6 months of age to Chris and began the long journey of training, thinking neither would work out. We were wrong! Both dogs graduated and Layla who is George's primary dog is now on a flight to Chicago with him. She has flown to numerous states and goes to work with him every day. Semper K9 is a genuinely caring and professional organization. Chris has extensive years working with dogs of all kinds including in combat.
George and I highly recommend Semper K9!
I had the amazing opportunity to foster Vegas while he was with Operation Paws for Homes. He was slated to be adopted but that fell through. Chris (founder of Semper K9) came out to my house to evaluate him for a chance to be a service dog. While Vegas won't graduate for some time, he is destined for greatness. Coming from a family with a lot of military background, I am proud to say I got to be a small part of Semper K9's mission.
Semper K9 is doing great things for dogs and Veterans! They know that just because a dog ends up in a shelter or rescue, it doesn't mean that the dog is broken or has no value. Thank you Semper K9 for giving these dogs a chance to service some of the greatest people out there, our Veterans!
Such a great service to our veterans and to rescue dogs.
I love that they offer fun events to the community to get out their message.
I love Semper K9's concept of shelter to service. It is important to me that the general public is able to see that shelter dogs are not damaged- many are just misunderstood. Many are destined for greatness if just given the chance. Semper gives many dogs that chance. These dogs go on the help veterans that have paid a steep price for their service, many battling PTSD and mobility issues. They absolutely deserve the support that Semper K9 provides. Essentially saving a dog and a veteran. Keep up the great work!
I am a coach in training for this organization and they have been fabulous in giving me the support I need. They are extremely dedicated to their K9 Coaches, the dogs in their care and most importantly to the Veteran's they support. They have been a pleasure to work with and volunteer for.
What started out as a cool idea for me and my 13 year old son to do, has turned into a true passion and shared mission with Semper K9. We thought it would be great to have a puppy in the house and to learn more about training dogs. After working with Chris and Amanda, and seeing their commitment and dedication to training service dogs to assist Veterans, we cannot be more proud of the work we have done to support Semper K9's mission. Chris and Amanda care deeply about the Service Members they are assisting and the dogs they are training. When the service member is paired with his/her dog, it is life changing and in some cases, life saving, for the Veteran. We have had the privilege to meet some of the Veterans, hear their stories, and see the difference their service dog is making in their life. It's a beautiful thing and we look forward to being a part of this organization for years to come.
Semper K9 is a 501C non-profit that is veteran run. What I find remarkable is that this non-profit remains humble, yet completely focused on its commitments. Everyone affiliated with the group, from organizational leader to the veteran and their families, along with volunteers, are included to make the best outcome possible for the handler/dog team. There is great respect for all participants, from the top, to include the board of directors, coaches and volunteers to even the family members of volunteers and veterans, who often work side by side. The committments set out by Semper K9 are reached in a timely matter, fulfilling all expectations; doing so in a fun, relaxed (though committed) way. But ultimately, the goal is reached... a shelter or donated dog is trained to provide a service that will enhance or even "give back a new life" to a veteran who has been given a service dog free of charge.
I met some reps from Semper K9 2 years ago and have been following them on social media since. I recently ran into the same people at another event and they remembered me! I feel like I know the founders and the dogs based on what is shared online and from what I have encountered what you see if what you get. I feel everyone involved is so authentic and really gives 100% to this mission. Love having them so close to my home!
The way Semper K9 give 100 % to help others inspires me. I love that the dogs they use are rescue dogs, and that through their organization and the efforts of a volunteer crew, they are able to supply a veteran in need with the service dog suited to them.
As a Veteran family we are happy to help other veterans through Semper k9, by training rescue dogs to support disabled vets. Their obvious care for both the veterans and the dogs is shown through their dedication to dog training and careful pairing the right dog with their veteran.
I'm thankful that this organization provides services to veterans at no cost, and they incorporate the family into the process. The volunteers I have met were extremely professional and knowledgeable. There needs to me more non-profit around the world providing these services to our troops!
When our 15 year son, who was healthy, active and thriving was hit with a sudden onset Tourette's his world crumbled and we were devastated by the debilitating disorder. After many doctor consults and medication changes, we found Semper K9 and Mikey. Once we were approved, Mikey and our son spent 4 months training together with the objective of getting back into school. Bottom line it was a miracle. Chris, Amanda and his wonderful volunteers all helped to bring back our son and allow him to face the challenges of high school with his service dog and companion, Mikey. Semper K9: Hooah! Thanks for all you do for our Veterans and their families.
Douglas B. Earhart
Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Retired)
I coached Semper K9's Mikey. I knew from the start that it would be difficult when he grew up and moved on to work with his forever person, but the whole year I spent with him, I was looking forward to his graduation ceremony. It meant a lot to me to have that milestone of closure for a job well done. During the year I coached Mikey, I was repeatedly told what a wonderful training coach I was and how much they appreciate and love me. They even named a puppy, Vinny, after my Grandpa - and they did this as a thank you to me.
Mikey had already begun his graduation training and I had already spent several months coaching Vinny when Semper K9 announced the date for Mikey's graduation. They decided they have a policy of only coordinating events with the handlers with whom the dogs are placed. So they did not check with the coaches who had dogs graduating (a total of two coaches) when they chose the date. Nor did they give us a "save the date" when they set it on their calendar.
They picked a day when I could not attend. This hurt my feelings very much on several levels. I love Mikey like crazy (I'm kind of his "mommy", even though he has more than one) and it was very important to me to be there. I am also confident that Mikey's family wanted to extend their appreciation to his coaches and that they never would have wanted this event to be planned without making sure the coaches could attend.
I was told that it would have been too much work to try and coordinate with "all the coaches" when setting the date for graduation. Frankly, I threw a fit at this. There were only two coaches with dogs graduating this summer and we were all in contact several times a week. It's simply not true that it would have been too difficult to give us a date to save on our calendar. In addition to my personal hurt, I think it reflects poorly on the organization that they are willing to have coaches be absent at graduation. What are they saying to the public? That they choose coaches who don't care enough to show up? Or that they don't care enough about their coaches to make sure they can attend?
Since I threw a fit, then they told me I don't understand the mission and they had a board meeting where they voted I could no longer coach. They told me that I don't understand the priorities - that the only important people are the veterans we place the dogs with. This was also extremely hurtful on many levels. I am the first to admit I was not graceful about pointing out I thought it was BS when they said they "couldn't" coordinate graduation with the coaches because it was "too much work" (to talk to all two of us).
At a routine veterinary visit for Vinny, the second dog I was coaching, Semper K9 showed up at the clinic (without telling me they planned to do so) and when the checkup was over, picked up his leash and told him to "say goodbye" to me. And thus, without saying anything to my face other than "do you have his vest with you" (which I didn't, because I was just there for a vet visit, and they were surprising me by taking him away), they "fired" me from Semper K9. Vinny was placed with another coach because he "deserves a chance to work with Vinny". I am still wondering, what do I deserve? If you're still reading, let me say I want to reach out to Mikey's family and to anyone working with Vinny now and in the future. I love those two boyz and would be delighted to hear from you at any time during their lives. Mikey & I spent a year attached at the hip and I told him regularly that if at any time he needs another place to stay or to retire to, he can always come back to me. I feel the same way about Vinny and I never wanted to stop coaching him. If I had a magic wand, I would use it to help get the message through that I do still want to work with Vinny. To Mikey's family again: I am really glad I got to meet you all briefly. I loved seeing the relationship develop between Mikey and his handler. I realize that graduation does not mean you are done training; training never stops. I do not have as much dog training knowledge as the semper k9 dog trainer but I do have some, and I do know and love Mikey-boy. So if ever there comes a time when the exec director is too busy or it would be helpful to have another set of eyes to help practice things, I would be happy to help. I just don't want you to be told that I "left" Semper K9 and am not a possible resource. I am dedicated to Mikey at any point in his life. Same with Vinny. The ED said he didn't know how I "misunderstood" that I was "being excluded from Semper K9". My first hint was when you scheduled my dog's graduation without checking that I could be there. Second hint was when your wife showed up at the veterinarian’s office, picked up Vinny’s leash, and told him to “say goodbye”. Third hint was when you placed Vinny with another coach. I don’t know what kind of support you wanted me to still be giving you, but I told you and I’m saying again, I just wanted/want to continue working with Vinny - because I love him, because I already started, and because he is named for my grandfather.
Some of these dogs are psychiatric service dogs. What is going to happen when someone with a psychiatric disability gets their feelings hurt and throws a fit? Are you going to come take away their service dog like you took Vinny from me? I also hope you reevaluate some of the dual relationships you have in your organization which contributed to this sh!tstorm and which I think are going to be detrimental to your long-term success. If you are going to work together husband and wife, you have to be careful that the dog training director doesn’t throw out coaches because the director of operations pressures you into doing so. And if you have a board member who is your boss at your paying job, this doesn’t mean that the board member is your boss at Semper K9. Board members should never try and manage individual volunteers and they probably shouldn’t contact them directly, certainly not without introducing themselves as board members. The DO’s response to the board member should have been “ok, we will deal with the situation”. Instead, she felt she “had to” take Vinny away from me because the board member is her boss - at PWL magazine, not at Semper K9. With these dual relationships and conflicts of interest, one level of my heartbreak is that I don’t see how Semper K9 is going to succeed in the long run. I was involved nearly from the start and felt like I was an important part. But if their attitude toward me could turn on a dime the way it did, I don’t see how they will maintain long term relationships supporting their service dog teams or how the organization can ever outlive the founders. I am sad about the end of what I thought was a very deep friendship with the people in Semper K9. The coaches who train the dogs *are* the organization and I am extremely sad that you made the decision that your “policy” is that the coaches are not a priority when scheduling gradution. I know this letter is harsh but there isn’t anything in it I haven’t already said to you. I have been clear that I want to talk face to face and mend the bridge. Perhaps with this posted publicly, you will reflect on your decisions and reconsider that you still haven’t communicated with me clearly about this whole incident. It is never too late and I welcome a conversation - a real one, not electronic.