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K9s For Warriors responds to bond vote pushback

The Ponte Vedra based nonprofit will receive $2.25 million in taxpayer money from San Antonio if their portion of a $1.2 billion bond vote is passed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — K9s For Warriors is responding to pushback against a bond vote in San Antonio that would give K9s For Warriors $2.25 million of the total $1.2 billion bond, if passed.  

K9s For Warriors is a nonprofit based in Ponte Vedra that works to train dogs to become service dogs for veterans who suffer from PTSD.

"There are so many other projects that could have been funded through this," San Antonio bond committee member Keri Neff told First Coast News on Thursday.

Neff was on a committee that oversaw how San Antonio bond money would be spent and opposes spending it on K9s For Warriors for a variety of reasons.  One of her reasons is that the city was told the group said they would rescue 200 dogs there a year; a number K9s For Warriors have been unable to meet.

"We've been able to rescue 123 animals from the general area around San Antonio and 72 from Animal Control Services directly," says K9s For Warriors CEO, Rory Diamond.  

"I negotiated that lease, and it says use our best efforts to get 200 dogs, and the reason why both sides said let's call it best efforts is they knew it would take a little while to get up to speed and get going.  No one had any idea covid was coming. The goal was to rescue as many dogs as we could."

Diamond says the number of rescues has increased since K9s For Warriors opened up its own facility in San Antonio in September 2021.

"We went from just a handful of kennels and two employees to know 24 employees and 30 kennels, so we've been able to rescue 31 dogs since we opened up, and we started a school, so we're training people how to train service dogs," says Diamond.

If the bond passes, this would be the first time K9s For Warriors received tax dollars from the state of Texas or the city of San Antonio, according to Diamond.

"We don't really want to be dependent on government money, it's not our favorite thing," says Diamond. "Over 94 percent of the money we receive is private dollars."  Diamond says K9s For Warriors began accepting government money in 2018 (roughly $1.5 million federal dollars and $1.8 million from the state of Florida).

Diamond adds that if the bond is voted down, K9s For Warriors will stay in San Antonio.

"It'll slow us down, but we are fully committed to San Antonio and the state of Texas," says Diamond, "we'll continue to build out there because we need to rescue dogs and help veterans in need.  Like we say, we rescue the dog and the dog rescues the Warrior.  We're dealing with the most suicidal veterans from around the country who are suffering the most from post-traumatic stress and to see them get their confidence back and go back out to the world again and become the moms and dads they want to be, to hear their personalities come back, the people they used to be when they went off to war, it warms your heart and it's the reason we get up and go every day, we're so honored to do it."

Citizens in San Antonio have until May 7 to vote on the bond.

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