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Huskies Help Retired Military Dogs, Vets

January 3rd, 2014
NIU student and naval reservist Thaddeus Huss volunteers with Save-A-Vet, which matches retired military K9s with disabled veterans.

NIU student and naval reservist Thaddeus Huss volunteers with Save-A-Vet, which matches retired military K9s with disabled veterans.

A select group of Northern Illinois University students will join with Save-A-Vet next semester to ensure that dogs that serve in the U.S. military, and with first responders around the country, earn the retirement they deserve rather than be euthanized when their commission ends.

“These dogs are true comrades-in-arms to their handlers their entire working lives. They protect those they love from the hazards of war and save victims of disaster. And they do so without thought for themselves, but for the service of others,” said Danny Scheurer, a disabled army and marine veteran who created the organization Save-A-Vet. “When these K-9 partners retire from this dangerous work, they should be able to retire with honor and live out the rest of their days in peace and comfort, with loving people. They’ve earned it.”

Save-A-Vet, which is based in Lindenhurst, Illinois, also serves disabled military, law enforcement, and first-responder veterans who receive housing in exchange for caring for retired K-9s deemed unadoptable. Such dogs are often put down.

A team of 12 handpicked students in the NIU College of Business Experiential Learning Center will work with Save-A-Vet to promote its cause and create Save-A-Vet Huskie House in DeKalb. Save-A-Vet’s goal is to make the home available to veterans attending NIU, providing them the opportunity to live at the facility rent-free if they care for a Save-A-Vet K9 and agree to use their degree to advance the organization after they graduate.

Under the guidance of faculty coaches James Johnson and Joan Petros, the students will be divided into two teams. One team will prepare a magazine telling the Save-A-Vet story, explaining the group’s vision through articles and photos. The other team will sell ads to pay for the cost of producing the magazine and to raise funds for Save-A-Vet. The magazine will be distributed to NIU’s 25,000 students, faculty, and staff, as well as to 25,000 other readers.

To launch this initiative, Save-A-Vet needed to raise $10,000, the ELC fee. They secured $6,000 through generous donations of NIU faculty who believe in their mission and wanted to make it a student project. The remainder was raised by local supporters, including the Sycamore VFW Auxiliary, Sycamore VFW Post #5768, the Sycamore Veterans Home Association, United Veterans Association – Sycamore Post #1, and Sons of the American Legion – Post #99 Sycamore, Herbert & Linda Holderman.

NIU is a pilot program for what Save-A-Vet hopes will be many university partnerships to create living quarters for retired military and police officers with K-9 companions in towns throughout the Midwest and across the country.

For information on how to partner with the ELC and Save-A-Vet to save the “other forgotten soldiers,” contact Joan Petros at (815) 753-8414. For information on Save-A-Vet, visit Save-A-Vet.org.

Learn more at NIUToday.info.