Last Updated on January 4, 2023 by Luke Feldbrugge
The Georgia Police K9 Foundation is dedicated to providing support and equipment to help K9 officers in Georgia. The Homes for Heroes Foundation awarded the organization a $10,000 hero grant to assist in their mission to support K9 agencies, their K9s and handlers, to assure they are highly trained and equipped to protect and serve their communities; and also receive the support they need in retirement.
This Homes for Heroes Foundation grant is part of the Homes for Heroes’ Circle of Giving, providing assistance for heroes in dire need across the country.
The Georgia Police K9 Foundation Interview with Jay Flynn
Homes for Heroes Outreach Coordinator, Jay Flynn, talks to Kyle Briley, the president of the Georgia Police K9 Foundation, and Lori Saucier, the Homes for Heroes real estate specialist who nominated the organization. You can watch the full interview here or read the transcript of the interview below.
Jay: Hello and thanks for joining us today. I’m Jay Flynn, Homes for Heroes Outreach Coordinator. And I’m joined today by Kyle Briley. Is that right?
Kyle: That’s right.
Jay: Awesome. He’s the president of the Georgia Police K9 Foundation. And we also have Lori Saucier, Homes for Heroes mortgage specialist. Welcome, guys.
Kyle: Thanks for having us.
Jay: Awesome. So as part of the Homes for Heroes Circle of Giving, the Homes for Heroes Foundation provides grants to nonprofits whose missions are to help heroes in need. I’m very, very honored to recognize that the Georgia Police K9 Foundation is a Homes for Heroes Foundation 2023 Grant recipient. Kyle, Lori and I are so honored to present the Georgia Police K9 Foundation with this $10,000 grant. Congratulations.
Kyle: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it. We’re honored to have you guys nominate us and being able to get this grant for our mission.
Jay: Awesome. Awesome. Well, we certainly owe our gratitude to all of our K-9 officers and their handlers out there. And we know they also face challenges daily. We hope that this grant helps the Georgia Police K9 Foundation to serve their communities – but more importantly, to serve the heroes that are out there in the field.
Kyle: Oh, yeah.
Jay: So let’s take just a few minutes and let’s talk about the Georgia Police K9 Foundation and its mission. So Lori, you nominated these fine folks for the Homes for Heroes Foundation Grant, right? Take a few minutes and talk to us about what moved you to make that nomination.
Lori: Well, let me first say that I absolutely love animals and especially dogs. And I had decided, a few years back, to really focus, after one of the Success Camps, to focus on law enforcement as my main hero group. The Georgia K9 Foundation was like a marriage made in heaven, because they have law enforcement and they have dogs.
So I was all over it. Then I actually met them directly when Officer Reaves and his K-9, Jerry Lee, were involved in an incident where Jerry Lee was shot and they had to amputate his leg. He was forced into retirement rather prematurely. It was through Kyle’s foundation and the Georgia Police K9 Foundation that Jerry Lee not only got the medical care he needed, but the recovery time.
Then they went a step further and replaced him, because he’s on a very small police force. What a lot of people don’t realize is when you take on a K-9 partner, unlike a human partner, that dog is typically with you 24/7. You are living together, you are eating together, you have highs together, and you have lows together. You take care of them when they’re sick.
I had the opportunity a couple of times to babysit a retired police dog, and let me tell you, they are just a bundle of energy. So when it’s 24/7, it’s 24/7. They just do not give up. They want to play and play and play and maybe eat a little and then play and play and run. So they are taking on this huge endeavor.
Then I found out that a lot of the police departments don’t have the funds. The police officers are paying for this out of their own salaries. They’re not making millions, I guarantee you that. And I just thought, “how can I give back? How can I be a better advocate?”
I started sponsoring at a very small level with their events. Then I got to witness how much Kyle is doing, the work he puts into this. Considering it has only been going six years, there are people from almost every state that come in. I thought there’s got to be more we could do.
And your grant was the perfect solution.
Jay: That is awesome. All of that is a perfect fit, like you said. So Kyle, the Georgia Police K9 Foundation was founded in 2016. So talk to us about the inspiration the founders had to create it. Then explain how the mission has changed over the years.
Kyle: In 2016, the department that I worked for had to retire a dog named Bruno. He was actually our foundation’s first dog where we were able to take care of their retirement. The handler at the time had to take on that burden of financial responsibility – due to a work-related incident over a period of years, and the wear and tear on the dog – and the handler was having to foot that bill.
So I felt like there should be some assistance there. I quickly found out that very, very, very few agencies have a system in place to be able to take care of K-9s when they actually retire. That was really the start of what we were able to do. Then I saw that even the military does not actually provide medical assistance for these retired K-9s the majority of the time.
There are programs out there now and there is assistance through agencies now, and we applaud them for that. We obviously encourage and hope that everybody will move to that. But as we were raising awareness about the retired K-9s and them needing assistance, we quickly found out that some agencies weren’t being able to properly fund their K-9 units.
They just needed help, and we needed to expand our mission to be able to raise awareness about K-9s in general. A lot of people didn’t even know that K-9s were being implemented in law enforcement agencies. They didn’t even know their department had a K-9. So we were able to raise awareness. We expanded from just helping retired K-9s to helping active K-9s as well.
Jay: It’s awesome that you guys were able to pivot and recognize, “Hey there’s more that we can do”. That’s really great. I see that the foundation’s core values are: protect, serve, educate. That’s the three things that pop up right there on your main home page. What kind of resources do you guys provide the law enforcement community that helps to support those core values?
Kyle: We’re able to protect, serve and educate the K-9 teams that are active and retired. Obviously by providing ballistic vest, heat alarm systems, medical care, Narcan, training equipment, we’re able to serve our retired K-9s. Lori was talking about retired K-9s like Jerry Lee, who got injured in the line of duty. We were able to assist him during retirement.
We also provide training to raise awareness. That’s really our main focus – raise awareness – because once you raise awareness, you’re able to talk about everything else with the K-9s. Then we’re able to serve our communities and serve the departments, serve the handlers, and act as a resource and help them through anything that they may need.
The two leading causes of death for working K-9s is heat exhaustion and gunfire. We’re able to educate in multiple ways. We’re able to educate handlers by providing training about real life scenarios. For example, to be able to know and determine when is a good time to send your K-9 into a situation and when it’s not.
In the case of an unfortunate situation, we’re also able to provide medical training to these K-9 teams. We’ve been able to provide over 100 K-9 teams this year with medical training to be able to prevent and see the signs of heat exhaustion. The training also addresses any significant injuries such as a gunshot, stabbing or something like that.
Then we’re also able to provide the ballistic vests, so that prevents any of that from happening. We’re able to host seminars every year and help the K-9 teams in many aspects. We’ve been able to help over 5,000 K-9 teams across the country through our efforts.
We’ve also been able to lay the roadmap for other foundations that have started. We want to help them because we’re not going to be able to do it by ourselves. We’ve mainly focused on Georgia. And we also have a line-of-duty-death K-9 memorial set up at our Georgia Public Safety Training Center.
Together, we’ve been able to assist these teams and provide 160 vests, 85 heat alarm inserts and help for 50 retired K-9s. All those things put together happens because of supporters and grants like this.
Jay: Wow, that is awesome. I’ll tell you what’s really awesome is that you’ve not only helped the K-9s and their handlers and officers there in Georgia, but you’ve been able to help folks all over the nation. That is wonderful.
Lori: You know, something I just wanted to add. You don’t think about the fact that when a K-9 officer is down, they don’t even have a place to call. You can’t call 911. So it’s really important that these officers get the training to do some life support assistance for these K-9s.
Jay: Absolutely. It’s awesome that you guys are able to provide that to the handlers to take care of those K-9 officers. All this is great stuff that you guys are doing. Are there any stories about the impact that the Georgia Police K-9 Foundation has had within the K-9 officer community?
I’m sure you’ve got some.
Kyle: Yeah, the main one was when Jerry Lee got injured in the line of duty. That was a situation, obviously, that was not planned. And being a smaller agency, they were not able to predict that would happen and that the medical bills would be as much as they were.
The vet office worked with us as much as they could. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to return to work. We were able to work with them and provide them with a K-9. That was one of the two special situations where we’ve been able to provide a department with a K-9 back into the community.
Our primary focus is to assist and help agencies. There’s many other retired K-9s that we’ve been able to help, like K-9 Mattis. And K-9 Leo is retired and had a major medical emergency recently. We were able to help. There’s many stories.
I think the handlers we help obviously feel it. As they feel it and as the community sees it, we’re able to grow even more.
Jay: That’s awesome. So Lori nominated you. You guys were selected and awarded the grant. How will this grant from the Homes for Heroes Foundation further the Georgia Police K9 Foundation’s mission and support K-9 officers across Georgia?
Kyle: It’s going to help us a tremendous amount. I mean, $10,000 can provide seven or eight K-9s with ballistic vests. It can provide heat alarm systems for probably six or seven K-9s. And those are very important pieces of equipment to have.
The peace of mind when you give it to a handler is priceless for us as handlers. I had a situation at one point where my department provided the heat alarm system. But we had a malfunction in the car engine and my K-9 was able to be saved by the heat alarm, alerting us that the interior of the vehicle was too hot for him.
He didn’t have heat exhaustion. The alert helped us get to him before he got to heat exhaustion. It’s just things like that– being able to provide everything that we can do to help further our mission and to help save K-9s. That also protects communities throughout the state of Georgia.
Jay: That’s awesome. So, Lori, you told me that you love the dogs, right? So do you think we could get a guest to come and join us?
Kyle: She’ll probably attack me with love. But hang on one second. There you go.
She’s still a puppy. So she’s still learning manners here.
Lori: I teased Kyle when he said he was in training with Harley, and I said, “Oh, you picked a gal this time.”
Kyle: I’m not biased or anything. She doesn’t look clear headed right now, but female K-9s are a lot more clear headed than male K-9s. So they’re good.
Jay: That is amazing, everything you guys are doing there. The Georgia Police K9 Foundation is truly making a difference across the state of Georgia for K-9 officers and their communities. So Kyle, if you could, if Harley doesn’t get in your face, can you share with our audience how they can get involved in supporting your mission and where they can go to learn more and get more information.
Kyle: Yeah, I mean, I get asked this a lot. I can’t stress enough the importance of just being able to engage with us on social media. That provides us with a lot of exposure and being able to raise awareness about what we do. It’s also important to partner with companies like you guys and help those companies who help us.
Kyle: We are also partnered with Amazon through their Give Back program, which gives back to us. It’s a great way to give back. Those things alone help us out, to be able to engage with folks on social media.
Jay: That’s awesome.
Lori: What is the Facebook page …
Kyle: Sorry, she’s gnawing on my arm here. The Georgia Police K9 Foundation is on pretty much every social media outlet. We have Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and all those social media platforms. You can also find us at Georgia K9 Police Foundation.
Lori: As a fan, I can tell you, you get to see a lot of what’s going on with the little furry friends.
Jay: Awesome. So I want to thank both of you for joining me today. Thank you, Kyle, and thanks to the Georgia Police K9 Foundation for everything that you guys are doing to support our K-9 officers.
Kyle: Thank you guys for thinking of us and supporting us and giving us this amazing grant.
Jay: To the audience, thank you guys, for joining us to hear more about the great work that the Georgia Police K9 Foundation is doing. An easy way to show your support is by giving this video a like or leave us a comment below. Most importantly, give us a share. Make sure that you tune in future episodes to learn more about the meaningful nonprofits the Homes for Heroes Foundation partner with to help heroes.
Until next time, take a moment today to say thank you to you.
Homes for Heroes
Grants from the Homes for Heroes Foundation are made possible by the Homes for Heroes Circle of Giving and its network of real estate professionals who are committed to providing savings to hero groups such as firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, military, active and veterans, health care professionals and teachers. To learn more about the services available through Homes for Heroes or to learn more about how the foundation is helping heroes in dire need, visit Homes for Heroes.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Homes Heroes YouTube channel and to learn more about the savings available to Heroes through Homes for Heroes. Also, take a moment to learn more about the Homes for Heroes Foundation and the grants it provides nonprofit organizations who help heroes in need, or simply to make a donation.