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New initiative trains shelter dogs to become service dogs for veterans in need

The initiative is a partnership between Ron and Stephanie Rivera, the Humane Society of Charlotte and K9s For Warriors.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ron Rivera, former Carolina Panthers head coach, and his wife Stephanie are joining forces with the Humane Society of Charlotte and K9s For Warriors for an initiative aimed at training shelter dogs to become service dogs for veterans in need. 

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With around 20 veterans dying by suicide every day, the initiative is working to change this by harnessing the healing power of service dogs.

K9s For Warriors is the leading shelter-to-service dog organization focused on the benefits these dogs provide in helping with mental health issues, such as PTSD.

"We all go through things that we don’t like to show," shared Quinton Loving, Marine Corps veteran.

Loving was paired with his service dog, Moly, through the program a few months ago. He said she has already changed his life by being there for him on his bad days.

Moly was rescued during an animal cruelty investigation before becoming a service dog. But now, Moly has rescued him, Loving said.

"It's very important to give dogs a second chance and give animals a second chance, just like it is with us,” said Loving.

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K9s For Warriors told WCNC Charlotte that it can be hard to find shelter dogs that are fit for training to become a service dog. This new partnership with the Humane Society of Charlotte will help their mission. 

"Right now, I think it's still a two-year waiting list and we’re trying to get that number down," Stephanie Rivera said. "So, there is a definite need and so the fact that we’re going to be able to find some great shelter dogs here at the Humane Society-- and hopefully that’ll reduce the wait time down for these veterans.”

The partnership was made possible thanks to a $20,000 donation from the Riveras.

On Friday, March 17, the Riveras toured the campus of the new state-of-the-art Humane Society in Charlotte. They also met the two first rescue dogs from the shelter that will be trained to help save the lives of a veteran in need.

Julia Kauffman: Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram  

If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here.


WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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