September is National Service Dog Month, and on Saturday, Sept. 11, the Savannah Kennel Club hosted a fundraiser, “Cocktails and Canines” event to support various organizations that train service dogs that help veterans.
The fundraiser featured live music by VooDoo Soup, Krazian food trucks, raffles and more.
“The Savannah Kennel Club gives back to the community on a regular basis and we do something every month. With September being National Service Dog Month, it just seemed like a natural fit to celebrate our service dogs and raise awareness of the service dog organizations here in Savannah and surrounding areas,” said Donna Merkle, Community Outreach, Savannah Kennel Club.
The Savannah Kennel Club was established in 1935 and their purpose is to improve the human canine bond, promote responsible dog ownership, preserve pure bred dogs, and bring the Savannah canine community together.
Savannah Kennel Club chose to host the event on Sept. 11 to commemorate the terrorist attacks and raise funds for organizations that train service dogs for veterans.
“September 11 is significant and important to me. I can remember it like yesterday. So, it is important to recognize these organizations who help veterans and first responders who play an important role in our country,” said Merkle.
Altamaha Canine Consulting, LLC., a service dog training business, is sponsoring the event and they have been working to help owners and their pets live happier and healthier live together since the year 2000. The team there designs a curriculum that is realistic to allow the canines to reach their maximum potential.
“We’re a team of 3 that train service dogs for various non-profits. This event is a give back to local organizations who have supported us, and we just want to shed light on these organizations and say thank you,” said Jacob Weaver the owner and lead trainer at Altamaha Canine Consulting, LLC.
All the proceeds raised that day are going to the non-profit organizations Companions for Heroes, Project Canine Services, and SD Gunner Fund.
“All three of the organizations are local to the area, and we always try to support local. I think all of them kind of play a different part in the service dog industry arena and in helping veterans,” said Merkle.
Companions for Heroes mission is to raise public awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and challenges confronting our country’s heroes and rally support for shelter animal adoption by connecting heroes and companions.
Project Canine Services work to provide assistance for Veterans and active or retired law enforcement personnel by offering services and goods to further the well being of their K9 companions in times of unexpected hardships.
SD Gunner Fund’s mission is to assist veterans, children living with disabilities, and first responders while inspiring disability awareness through public education and advocacy.
“There is a huge need for service dogs right now. Our biggest joy has been training the dogs to make the person life easier and help them feel they reached a level of normalcy. If we can help them feel that way that is a great accomplishment,” said Weaver.
“I think it’s a special time, and I think that was the other reason why that the painting that the person did in St. Simon is also so beautiful and so pointed because it shows the American flag with the Lab service dog and the words that are on the painting, ‘it will be a long journey, I will walk it with you’. Those words have significance,” said Merkle.
Visit savannahkennelclub.org to learn more about the mission and to make a donation.