Nonprofit Aims to Help Four-legged Veterans

NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- Something that brings a smile to most is watching veterans reunite with loved ones when they return home.

Matthew Kropp of Shenandoah and his dog tina are both veterans. They served together in Iraq.

"Geez, without her, I wouldn't be able to live. Now, we can relax and retire, and I can provide that for her now after all she's provided for me," said Kropp of Shenandoah.

Matthew and Tina's reunion is one of many success stories for K9 Hero Haven, a nonprofit out of Herndon.

Anne Gibbs adopted her first retired working dog in 2012.

Sheera worked long hours at the U.S.-Mexico border as a drug-sniffing dog and was once seen as a difficult placement to animal shelters.

"It just made me realize how many more dogs out there there were," said Gibbs.

So in 2015, Anne started K9 Hero Haven. She takes in retired military, police, and U.S. customs and border protection dogs. Military dogs, like Bear and Singa, were trained to protect our men and women overseas.

"They are trained to either search for narcotics or explosives. It's just amazing, these dogs, they save so many lives, and they protect so many people," Gibbs said.

The majority of these dogs are Belgian Malinois and German shepherds. Anne currently has about 50 dogs in her care.

Bill Cossari is in charge of the day to day operations at K9 Hero Haven. Bill is an Army veteran himself and says caring for these dogs is rewarding.

"They didn't have a chance to be a puppy or a dog or anything while they were working, and I see how much joy they have, and that makes me happy," Cossari said.

K9 Hero Haven's goal is to reunite these dogs with their handlers. Newswatch 16 was on hand for several of those reunions, such as Troy and Ali.

Before the dogs are reunited with their handlers or adopted out, they go into a foster home to adjust to life outside the kennel. Sarah and Vashon Duffy of Sunbury have fostered nine dogs over the years.

"It's very rewarding when they get adopted that you know they're just going to go and be a dog," Sarah Duffy said.

Over the last four years, K9 Hero Haven has adopted out more than 230 dogs all across the United States.

Most of the dogs at K9 Hero Haven are adopted out to combat veterans or law enforcement families. As we honor the men and women who serve our country, Anne and her team ask you to remember these veterans too.

"They're out there working every day, and they're protecting people. They're serving our country with four legs rather than two," said Gibbs.

"They recognize their worth and the lives that they save and the fact that they are willing to go out and put their lives on the line and keep the men safe," said Duffy.

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