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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Patriot Service Dogs in Marion County wins national Veterans Outreach award

Patriot Service Dogs, a charitable organization in Marion County that pairs well-trained service dogs with veterans free of charge, is the proud recipient of $25,000 and a new vehicle after winning a national competition.

The second annual Defender Service Awards were held in New York this past weekend, and the two-day event included curated adventure activities, camping, live music, and the announcement of the Defender Service Award winners.

Hundreds of organizations submitted videos to the Defender Service Awards and only five finalists were selected by the sponsors, Land Rover and Chase Bank, for each category. Patriot Service Dogs (PSD) recorded its video submission on a cellphone with the help of volunteers and a box of chalk.

PSD was selected as one of five finalists from across the country competing for the Defender Service Awards in the “Veterans Outreach” category. The other finalists included Military Mobility (Cody, Wyoming), Helping Heroes Hunt (Quitman, Texas), Travis Mills Foundation (Mount Vernon, Maine), and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs (Flintstone, Georgia).

Public voting for each category remained open through Sunday, November 6. Once the votes were tallied, PSD was among the top two finalists in its category, and the organization received an invite to New York for the Defender Service Awards ceremony.

PSD sent one of its veterans, Yacov, along with his service dog named Tucker, to the awards ceremony on behalf of the organization.

Patriot Service Dogs in Marion County wins national Defender Service Award
Yacov (left) and his service dog named Tucker attended the awards ceremony on behalf of Patriot Service Dogs (Photo courtesy of Patriot Service Dogs)

“Yacov and Tucker could not have been better representatives of Patriot Service Dogs at the Defender Service Awards,” stated PSD on its Facebook page. “They are a great example of a veteran/service dog team and totally committed to the Patriot Service Dogs mission.”

During the awards ceremony, PSD was announced as the winner of the 2022 Defender Service Award in the Veterans Outreach category. Yacov accepted the award on behalf of PSD and stated that the organization is “pretty incredible.”

“Tucker has saved my life, changed my life. Every other veteran that I know has been the same, and I’m truly grateful,” added Yacov.

Patriot Service Dogs in Marion County wins national Defender Service Award 1
Yacov (center) and Tucker posing with the $25,000 check at the Defender Service Awards (Photo courtesy of Patriot Service Dogs)

PSD, along with the event’s other award winners, received a $25,000 cash prize and a customized Land Rover Defender 130. The runner-up in each category received $5,000.

In a social media post, PSD stated, “This is the start of a great new chapter for Patriot Service Dogs and it is all made possible by our dedicated community. We are honored by all the support we received and so excited to be able to bring this (award) home.”

For more information, visit the Patriot Service Dogs website.