Mary Peter, CMDT and K9 P4P’s founder and CEO, with a K9 P4P service dog.

With over 20 veterans committing suicide each day because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and military sexual trauma (MST), many of them need help with getting through their everyday lives. K9 Partners for Patriots, Inc. (K9 P4P) has made this its mission, and it has helped tremendously.

In 2013, Mary Peter, Certified Master Dog Trainer and K9 P4P’s founder and CEO, was teaching classes at Stillwater Dog Training, Inc. when she noticed veterans were enrolling but not engaging in the classes or soon dropping out. Realizing the need for a service dog training program focused on helping veterans like them, she opened K9 P4P.

K9 P4P is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to aiding pre and post-9/11 veterans with a 19-week training course where they will train their dogs at the organization’s location, rather than wait a couple years and spend thousands of dollars on a pre-trained service dog. There are neither waiting lists nor charges to veterans.

By training their own service dogs, veterans can gain a renewed sense of purpose and commitment.

“These dogs are much more than a pet; these dogs are a bridge to get them into a better position in life,” said Gregg Laskoski, the communications director of K9 P4P.

K9 P4P helps not only veterans, but also dogs that have been abandoned, mistreated or neglected. Taken from shelters and rescues after confirming they can help veterans with PTSD, TBI or MST by alerting positively to adrenaline levels rising from stress, each dog can get a new chance at life.

With 811 veterans applied to program, 335 members, 224 graduates and 136 dogs rescued, and counting, the nonprofit has helped hundreds. Its first participant, Ron Flaville, now the COO and a veteran liaison, has made significant progress.

“He has done so well that his dog, Sophia, doesn’t have to come with him every single day to work. Sophia is somewhat semiretired, is how he puts it,” said Laskoski.

To help K9 P4P, you can become a foster caregiver and share your home with future service dogs until they can start training. Visit K9 P4P is located at 15322 Aviation Loop Dr. in Brooksville and is open Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

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Taylor Wells is a relatively recently hired news reporter for the Osprey Observer, having been with the paper only since October 8, 2018. Aside from writing articles, he helps edit and upload them to the Osprey Observer site, and is always available to help other staff members in his spare time. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and lives in Valrico.