homepage logo

Contract service working dogs deserve good home after retirement

By Staff | Sep 28, 2018

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Dawn Nickles of PATRIOTK9 RESCUE is with her adopted dog Asta, a former military contract working dog that spent 7 years in Afghanistan.

WATSONTOWN – The month of September and especially this week, we celebrate dogs, but not just ordinary dogs, but dogs who do extraordinary things. There are dogs who love to serve and their owners who give them that opportunity. Then there are those who rescue dogs to make sure they are given a good home for what they do.

PATRIOT K9 RESCUE headquartered in Watsontown is a non-profit working dog rescue organization. Owners Dawn Nickles and Paul Oldt devote their time helping military or police canine working dogs find “a loving home upon retirement.” They help them adapt to civilian life and socialize them. “We give them the medical care they need and help find suitable and loving homes for them,” Nickles said. “Prior to adopting my contract working dog (CWD), I really didn’t know much about them or what CWD even stood for.” The couple work exclusively with military dogs and Police K9’s after their retirement. These dogs usually have a service contract, and work with a handler after many hours of training and retraining. Some go through more than one handler as they are transferred from unit to unit according to Nickles who rescued her own dog, Asta, a German Shephard who served 7 straight years in Afghanistan.

Private contract companies often own them and have the ability to rotate them in and out of service locations to lead and patrol. “When the dog is too old or injured and can no longer be of service they are stuck in a kennel, waiting until someone will raise the money to come get them and and take care of them,” explained Nickles. Sometimes the dogs are injured and in poor health due to the extreme conditions they endure year after year. “Some experience battle stresses as my dog did,” she added. “Their value should never be underestimated.”

Two weeks ago they went to Philadelphia airport where they picked up a CWD from Alaska. “When they are no longer a therapy dog, we want them to be adopted to be pets,” Nickles said. Often they will travel out of state to pick up the dogs.

Nickles and Oldt hope to raise more awareness and get more people to adopt these lovable creatures after serving their “nation so selflessly.” They said that each dog saves between 150 to 200 lives during their tenure of service, many enduring harsh conditions as soldiers do. “Our organization was formed to help raise funds to bring them home, provide medical care and rehab, house them and find loving homes for them to retire in with the dignity they deserve,” Nickles stated.

PHOTO PROVIDED Maizie Mae is a therapy dog and an English Bulldog who loves to visit the Muncy Skilled Nursing Center. Her handler is Don Young and he says she loves to take long naps with the patients. She rides in a “chariot” and she is a certified AKC K9 and base mascot for the Williamsport Base of United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. She has her own Facebook page Therapy Dog Maizie.

Oldt who is a retired state prison employee said they just adopted out another CWD to a local veteran who was in Iraq and Nickles replied, “It was an instant bond. He was a former army ranger.”

Oldt said they have 4 kennels that are heated and air conditioned and started PATRIOTK9 RESCUE a year ago last October. “We have taken over close to 8 or 9 contract working dogs since then. There is a real need here in this area,” he said. “These dogs deserve a good home.”

Usually a CWD is in service for about 8 to 10 years of hard work and training. According to the couple, they can live another two to four good years after that. “Let’s give them the happiness they never had before,” Nickles said, “and give them a home to retire in.”

They have a website and a Facebook page for those who wish to donate or adopt a retiring service dog. They travel throughout the region to promote their cause. Recently they participated in the 9-11 Memorial Ride in Montgomery and on Saturday they were at the first annual Defender Football Fall Fest at Warrior Run Middle School.

The American Humane Society reports that around 20,000 dogs work as assistance animals, even more if you add therapy and emotional support dogs. The first guide dog school opened in 1916 during World War I to train the canines to care for injured veterans. More than 3 million shelter animals are adopted each year.

Many of these animals love to be adopted a and the Patriot K9 Rescue team is available for anyone who wishes to donate, adopt or volunteer. Visit them at Patriot9Rescue@gmail.com or call 570-506-4924 or 490-5410.