Motivated to help her brother, Brunswick woman creates program to help veterans care for service animals
There's more that goes into the care of service animals than meets the eye. For example, who cares for them if a veteran needs extended treatment away from home? Or if a disabled veteran feels like they cannot exercise or groom their dog properly?
Abigail Harrington saw that need unfolding right before her very eyes. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Abigail's brother returned home suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. A service dog named Molly was donated to him.
"The two of them have such a special bond, and you can really see how much it is helping," said Abigail, founder and CEO of Project K-9 Services in Brunswick, GA. "But still there are days where he feels like he can't do it alone."
"One day my brother was not having a good day. He called me and asked if I could help him get Molly to the groomer — he just couldn't. Of course, I got her all cleaned up and back to him."
Abigail realized that her brother can't be the only one with a service animal that has days like this.
"The condition and mental state of the K-9 companion often reflected what the veteran was feeling or experiencing, and I thought to myself, 'What can we do to help?'"
Armed with her background with animals and the motivation to help her brother in any way possible, Abigail started Project K-9 Services in 2019 with a mission to bridge the gap between our heroes and their K-9s.
In the years since, Abigail and her team have helped dozens of veterans and retired law enforcement with services and essential needs that most people might not think about. They connected them with mobile groomers, pet sitters (both short and long term), mobile veterinarians, and trainers to teach and certify their companions to be certified as service animals. Project K-9 also helps with service animals when a veteran requires extended treatment away from home.
Abigail, a single mother of three children ages eight to 21, continues to work a full-time job and also cares for a service dog for her daughter, an active member of the U.S. Navy.
Teaming up with programs such as Emory's Veteran Intensive Outpatient Program and The Shepherd Center's SHARE Military initiative program has allowed Abigail to expand services offered and help more people who need it most. Project K-9 Services is working on building a facility in Brunswick, GA, with the hopes of providing additional services such as specialized trainers and a veterinarian on-site a few days a week and more reintegration programs for veterans returning home.
"There are a lot of moving parts," said Abigail. "We want to do everything we can to help veterans reintegrate into society."
Learn more at www.projectk9services.com.
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