Not all amazing Americans are people. Some are of the four-legged variety. This week’s edition of Amazing America with Sarah Palin highlighted dogs that make a substantial difference in their communities.
Field host Tara Conner met with the folks from K9s4COPs, a Houston-based group specializing in raising awareness and funding for police K-9 training. Meantime, field host Jerry Conner visited The Puppy Jake Foundation in Iowa to get a firsthand look at an organization that trains and places service dogs with our wounded warriors.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a dog lover through and through, opened the show by marveling at the dogs’ “loyalty, companionship, and their natural instinct to protect what they love.” Palin then kicked it to Conner in the Lone Star State for the former Miss USA’s big day at K9s4COPs.
Conner met with founder Kristi Schiller and staff to learn more about the organization founded in 2010 to provide trained police dogs free of charge for local law enforcement. Schiller created the group after hearing a news story on Christmas about a K-9 officer killed in the line of duty. She wanted to replace the dog. When Schiller discovered no such group existed, she went above and beyond the call. “That’s where Kristi’s American ingenuity kicked in,” said Palin.
Schiller started the non-profit and now upwards of 80 dogs are on the beat. These animals impress. Conner learned that up close and personal. K9s4COPs teaches narcotics detection and trains patrol dogs to neutralize threats. Conner was amazed to see how quickly and accurately one of the pooches could find drugs hidden in a drawer. As Palin put it, these loyal friends “can do things people and computers can’t.” This particular dog did it all for a tennis ball.
Next, things got really interesting. Conner was told she would be put in a bite suit, prompting her to ask: “It’s safe, right?” Despite any trepidation she may have been feeling, she soldiered on and donned the heavy outfit. Conner was chased down and grabbed on the protected arm by one of the dogs. Nothing to sneeze at, considering, as Palin told us, that “a police dog bite averages about 300 pounds of pressure per square inch.”
Palin also wondered if there isn’t a new reality show in here somewhere. Perhaps “America’s Next Top Chew Toy” Palin suggested. Drugs for a tennis ball. Apprehension of bad guys for a belly rub. These selfless dogs are loyal, effective, and amazing.
While watching new K-9 cadets perform tasks, Conner also met Ted Dahlin, the officer who lost his K-9 partner years earlier. His tragedy inspired it all, and now “dozens of cops have new partners ready to serve,” Palin said.
A graduation ceremony ended the special day. Another talented dog was officially given K-9 officer status, a dog born in Europe, who served in Afghanistan, and lived in Alabama. Palin praised Schiller and her tireless work calling the K9s4COPs founder “so generous and so beautiful inside and out. Folks in so many states now are sleeping a little safer tonight.”
In the second half of the program Jerry Carroll brought us the inside story on Puppy Jake Foundation. Labs, Goldens, and Shepherds paired with veterans learning to cope with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and/or recovering after injury. Puppy Jake Foundation provides these dogs to vets in need, free of charge.
Whether it’s PTSD or mobility issues, Puppy Jake Foundation delivers. The three breeds, chosen for their size, intelligence, and natural instincts start training at just eight-weeks old. It takes about 18-24 months to complete a training. Each dog runs about $20,000 to finish the challenging course. “But Thanks to generous donors the final cost of a fully trained Puppy Jake partner is absolutely free,” said Palin.
Jake, the dog the group is named for, demonstrated for Carroll how to flip a light switch off and on with his snout. Then we meet one of the new pups just starting training. The “little furball,” as Carroll calls the Golden Retriever, does just fine, learning drills with treats as the incentive.
The program ends on an emotional note as Carroll visits with Army vet Mitch Chapman and Bob, the dog he received from Puppy Jake Foundation. Chapman was hit by an IED in Kandahar. He hasn’t been the same since. Suffering from PTSD, he’s had a hard time leaving the house. Now, thanks in large part to Bob, his “best friend,” Chapman has been able to go on a field trip with his daughter. He also reluctantly attended a concert and wound up enjoying it. “I can’t describe the words,” Chapman said. I’m forever in debt to Puppy Jake.”
Dog owners across the country know the love and companionship Man’s Best Friend can bring. K-9 officers and service dogs take that relationship to another level.
“I’m lucky I get to experience the joy a service dog brings every day right in my own home,” Palin said. She’s referring to new Palin family member Jill Hadassah, a black Lab trained at Puppy Jake Foundation to serve as little Trig Palin’s helper and buddy.
A great endorsement from Palin, who’s been known to endorse only those she has thoroughly vetted. Palin encourages all Americans to check out K9s4COPs and Puppy Jake Foundation, and if possible give to them financially in order to help these programs continue to thrive.
Amazing America with Sarah Palin airs Thursday nights on Sportsman Channel.