Animal health company assists retired military working dogs

Published: May. 30, 2016 at 1:33 PM CDT
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Lt. Col. Cory Christoffer remembers the first time he worked with Lady in Afghanistan.

“We met back in 2013," said Christoffer. "I was there doing a war planning job, and she was there as an explosive detection dog, and she was there in her fourth year of being there for four years.

The yellow Labrador Retriever made such an impact on Christoffer, it was a no brainer giving her a forever home after she retired from service.

“Now I have a one year old infant that pulls all over her ears and is all over her," said Christoffer, "and I’ve got a 13-year-old that thinks she that she owns Lady.”

Sadly, not every story ends like Lady’s, because after a service dog retires, there’s no real pension plan set for health benefits. One animal health company decided it was time for a change.

“We realized that about two years ago, Zoetis did, when we were introduced to a dog named K9 Blaze," said Dr. Michael McFarland, group director of marketing with Zoetis. "He’s a New York City police dog that had just retired and had a number of health care challenges.”

It was through Blaze Zoetis would eventually create the Rimadyl K-9 Courage program, which supports 550 retired military or police dogs by giving the owner $300 that can be applied to veterinary expenses, and the program plans to grow even more.

“I hope to expand the program and basically make it a Zoetis-wide, company-wide type of program," said McFarland, "because there’s no question that there are additional needs. The size of our wait list alone indicates to me that there’s a great deal more support that’s needed.”

It's support needed to return the favor to our four legged heroes.

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