Alpha K9 in Sacramento is Saving Veterans Lives One Dog at a Time
Oct 30, 2015 09:58AM ● Published by Bill Romanelli
Front row, center (black shirt): CEO and Founder Kevin Cameron with his dog Dasko, surrounded by Alpha K9 staff, trainers and service dogs
Kevin Cameron started Alpha K9 because of his brother, who was suffering from severe PTSD. Cameron came home one day to find him with a gun in his mouth. He talked his brother out of it and got him help. The doctors suggested a service dog, but as Cameron researched, he saw a lot of for-profit companies taking advantage of a need. “People were selling their homes to get $20,000 or $50,000 for a dog, and waiting up to four years for it,” Cameron says. “My brother didn’t have that kind of money…or time.”
Fortunately, during Cameron’s military career—he’s a highly decorated combat veteran who served his country for almost 14 years and received a Purple Heart, before enemy fire ended his vocation in 2011—he was involved in training dogs for the Military Working Dog program. No stranger to PTSD or the emotional struggles returning veterans endure daily, Cameron founded Alpha K9 to help other veterans, as well as first responders, crime and trauma victims—anyone with “emotional disabilities” whose life might be saved by a service dog.
Remarkably, he provides dogs for free—getting them from rescue shelters all around the country—and because of his military experience, can get them trained and placed in about three months. So far he’s placed nearly 500 dogs throughout the U.S. and Canada, but he’ll be quick to tell you he doesn’t measure results in those exact terms. “We gauge success by the number of families we keep together,” he says. “We gauge it by the number of kids that get to keep their dad or mom, and by the number of spouses that get their husband or wife back instead of losing them forever.”
At an average cost of $5,000 to feed, train and place one dog, it doesn’t take a John Nash to figure out Cameron and his team run on a budget of $1 million a year. That’s to say nothing of the ongoing training they provide to clients at no charge, or their plans to double in size and place more dogs with more people. That’s a long way of saying that they rely on help from others to complete their mission.
The nonprofit gets generous sponsorship from Tuscan Natural, which donates all the dog food Alpha K9 needs, along with support from Western Feed & Pet Supply, HATE Project, Cisco, Archangel Ammunition and other sponsors. From there, they rely on volunteer support, charitable donations and fund-raisers, such as this month’s Monte Carlo Night on November 13 where every penny raised goes back to the program.
“We hope people will come out and support us,” Cameron says. “There are good people out there just trying to create a future for themselves and their families, and we want to help them do that.” It certainly worked for Cameron’s brother, who today is happily married, has a beautiful daughter and is going to school.