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K9s For Warriors facing funding hurdle in San Antonio

There is pushback to a $1.2 billion bond in San Antonio that would allocate $2.25 million to K9s For Warriors.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — K9s For Warriors has helped hundreds of veterans, their families and shelter dogs since they opened in 2015.  

In that time, the Ponte Vedra nonprofit has expanded both locally and in other states, but San Antonio might be throwing up a roadblock.

K9s For Warriors already has a facility in San Antonio, Texas, and there are plans to expand it to house more dogs and serve more veterans.  But funding for this expansion will come from taxpayer dollars.  

Keri Neff is one of 33 non-elected people to serve on a committee that oversaw how local San Antonio bond money would be spent and does not want taxpayer money to go towards K9s For Warriors.

"Helping veterans is a priority in 'Military City, USA', we need it," says Neff, "I did my homework, I was tasked with doing my homework in this process."

That process is allocating $1.2 billion to public works projects.

"Streets and drainage, parks, libraries, fire stations, there's a lot of city facilities that need this money," says Neff.

The list of expenses could include $2.25 million to expand K9s For Warriors' San Antonio facility, which rescues shelter dogs for veterans.  

Neff is skeptical of the nonprofit's numbers of how many dogs they've saved. City officials told her committee that only 60 dogs were saved in San Antonio since 2019.

"Their statistics of actually getting dogs in Warrior's homes here is not living up to how they presented themselves to the city," says Neff. "You have to come back to the citizens of San Antonio who are paying their property taxes and justify sending a dog to Nebraska with our city money."

K9s For Warriors provided the following statement to First Coast News:

K9s For Warriors made the decision to expand its program to San Antonio in 2019 due to its high canine euthanasia rate, large veteran community, and access to dogs in need to reduce the veteran waitlist. Since then, the organization has invested 6 million private dollars in the city and will invest an additional $2 million by the end of 2022. K9s For Warriors opened the Petco Love K9 Center in September of 2021, months later than anticipated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly slowing the dog procurement rate. Despite not having a facility until eight months ago, K9s For Warriors saved 123 dogs. This month, the first class of Texas Warriors graduated in San Antonio with Texas-rescued dogs. K9s For Warriors is committed to the City of San Antonio and the great state of Texas. 

 The veteran waitlist is a result of the high demand for the program among the veteran community. It is priority number one of K9s For Warriors to significantly reduce our waitlist—it’s why we are building the Mega Kennel facility, the nation’s largest rescue to Service Dog training facility. It will give K9s For Warriors the capacity to house 150 additional dogs and dramatically increase our ability to meet the demand of our veterans. Phase one of this project is opening next month.

Now that we have a Warrior campus in San Antonio (as of this month) the focus is Texas Warriors, some of which will be San Antonio veterans.  At the end of the day our mission and goal has and always will be to end veteran suicide.

We need dogs of a certain size and we are confident there are plenty of dogs in the shelter system that fit our program. 

Currently San Antonio is in Early Voting for the bond proposal, but San Antonio voters have until May 7th to go to the polls to make a decision on 6 parts of a $1.2 billion proposal, part of which will give more than $2 million to K9s For Warriors if approved.

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