Rick Yount is the Executive Director and Founder of Warrior Canine Connection. He has served in the field of social services for 30 years and pioneered the first therapeutic service dog training program at the Palo Alto, California Veterans Hospital in 2008. Pairing his experience and expertise, he utilizes the Mission Based Trauma Recovery Model to help recovering warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other through service dog training.
We chose .ORG in our domain name because it reflects the seriousness of what we do. Being a successful .ORG really starts with a No-Fail mission. It is not about any individual, it is about a collective community taking care of Veterans.
At Warrior Canine Connection, we engage veterans who are suffering with PTSD and brain injuries and teach them to train dogs for their fellow veterans. Having a .ORG gives us a platform to share this critical work and shows we take what we do seriously.
Mission-driven organizations power the .ORG Community. What does it mean to have a No-Fail Mission at Warrior Canine Connection?
Taking care of each other is a core value in the military community as well as critical for our society. Through our program, we are able to tap into that warrior ethos and address the visible and invisible wounds of our veterans by providing a sense of duty with the Mission Based Recovery Model. Veterans who may not jump to do something for themselves, are gaining purpose by taking on an important and tangible mission of learning to train our dogs to take care of their brothers and sisters in arms.
How has your mission and .ORG grown?
When we initially started in Palo Alto, we were the only program using non-pharmaceutical intervention to help veterans struggling with PTSD and brain injuries. Now, service dog therapy is recognized as a safe, cost-effective way to support our service members. Through research and experience, we know one dog can help dozens and dozens of veterans and it doesn’t stop there. During Covid-19, we had nurses reach out to us and say how much our puppy cam meant to them during some of the hardest days of the pandemic. So not only are we able to harness the healing power of our animals for the military community, but having a .ORG allows us to reach those in the larger community with just a daily dose of oxytocin or stress release.
On May 12, 2021, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 1448, the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act as a result of Yount’s therapeutic service dog training model. President Biden signed the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act into law on August 25, 2021, marking it as the first law authorizing the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide canine training to eligible veterans as part of their recovery and health plan.