ACS

Why a planned expansion of a veteran service dog program is causing concern

The CEO of K9s For Warriors believes the city received erroneous statistics.

Why a planned expansion of a veteran service dog program is causing concern

S.A. San Antonio’s proposed expansion of a veteran service dog program has been challenged as voters consider approving over $2 million in city bonds.

The Florida-based charity K9s For Warriors hopes to establish a second facility on land along State Highway 151 that it has leased from the city since early 2019.

The 10-year agreement between the city and K9s For Warriors requires the charity to withdraw at least 200 canines from ACS each year.

K9s for Warriors “is hitting the mark and will likely continue to meet the mark and exceed expectations,” said District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez.

In San Antonio, though, critics of the proposed expansion question whether the program has genuinely exceeded expectations.

From 2019 through the end of 2021, ACS transferred 71 canines to K9s For Warriors, considerably below the agreed-upon 200 each year.

The data reveals that just 19 canines were rated appropriate for the program. The organisation says the remaining 52 dogs were adopted out to families after being deemed unsuitable for duty.

Stats that contradict

It was stated in an October signed memo to San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh that K9s For Warriors had rescued over 100 dogs with Animal Care Services.

In a December email to the facilities bond committee, Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez claimed that K9s For Warriors had rescued 60 ACS dogs from January 2019 to November 2021.

When asked why his charity gave a false statistic last year, K9s For Warriors CEO Rory Diamond stated it was “certainly nothing intentional.”

“I think what happens is we take dogs, gaze at them, and then return them. “I believe the issue was the discrepancy,” Diamond remarked.

According to Villagomez’s memo, K9s For Warriors does not return animals to ACS but instead seeks them new homes.

Residents who attended and participated in last year’s bond committee meetings claimed numbers on how many dogs were moved from Animal Care Services to K9s For Warriors were inconsistent.

Residents who attended and participated in last year’s bond committee meetings claimed numbers on how many dogs were moved from Animal Care Services to K9s For Warriors were inconsistent. (KSAT)

This month, a city official said 17 additional organizations can send rescue canines to K9s For Warriors.

From 2019 through the end of 2021, 44 more canines were transferred to K9s For Warriors from “other sources”. The data reveals that 15 canines were approved for the program.


San Antonio Dog Rescues

Deficit causes

Diamond and Pelaez provided various reasons for not transporting 200 or more ACS rescue canines every year.

“We discovered a unique approach to take hundreds of canines from the prospect of euthanization and place them in the hands of veterans all around the country to prevent their suicides,” Pelaez said of K9s For Warriors during a February 10 city council meeting.

Pelaez said the world changed “post-COVID” and K9s For Warriors was like “every other nonprofit in the country” that struggled with budget, staffing, and service delivery issues during the pandemic.
“Despite that, I believe they did fantastic,” Pelaez remarked.
Diamond attributes the low dog transfer statistics to the nonprofit’s lack of a physical presence in San Antonio until last autumn, but he believes the 200-dog-per-year goal can be met if the organization receives bond funds to grow its San Antonio footprint.

Diamond said K9s For Warriors now employs 28 individuals in San Antonio.

Prior to K9s For Warriors’ arrival in San Antonio, Pelaez stated that “zero veterans” had been rescued from suicidal thoughts.

When the Defenders questioned his statement, Pelaez had a different reaction.

It’s a “vertically integrated organization” that does more than simply provide a veteran a service dog.

According to the Florida-based charity’s estimates, it has rescued over 1500 dogs and provided over 700 veterans with assistance dogs.

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