WASHINGTON, DC: Last week, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) hosted future service dogs from American K-9 Interdiction (AK9I) in Carrsville at the U.S. Capitol to raise awareness about the important work AK9I is doing to keep local Virginia communities safe.
Congresswoman Kiggans introduced the nine black Labrador retriever puppies and their handlers to Members of Congress after votes, where they learned about the certifications AK9I provides for its handlers – who are predominately veterans – and were educated about how these dogs will be utilized in local schools and other venues to detect weapons, drugs, and other dangerous items. The visit also served to socialize the puppies, who will be trained to work effectively in crowded, busy environments. You can view photos from the visit here.
“It was a privilege to host the AK9I team and their eight-week-old black Labrador puppies,” said Congresswoman Jen Kiggans. “Over the past two years, I’ve seen firsthand the positive results they are achieving for those in Hampton Roads. Their dedication to keeping our community safe makes a real, positive impact in the lives of so many, especially our students and veterans. I’m glad I was able to introduce my colleagues and their staff to these four-legged heroes…having them at the U.S. Capitol provided a much-needed mental health boost for everyone!”
“It was such an honor to be invited by Congresswoman Kiggans to bring some of our K-9s in Training up to the Capitol in DC for some socialization and exposure to new environments,” said James Overton, Director of Marketing and Business Development at AK9I. “Not only was it a huge morale booster for those that got to see the puppies, but it was a fantastic opportunity to get a new challenging environment to expose the puppies to, which is absolutely crucial to them becoming strong K-9s when they get older!”
“It also gave us a chance to highlight the important work our current K-9 partners are doing to help safeguard kids in the public schools through the Hampton Roads region through our School K-9 Safety Initiative, as well as countless other venues across the country, such as Busch Gardens and professional sports stadiums,” Overton continued. “We discovered that early exposure to the challenging environments such as public schools and other active places helps to set up the K-9 for success! We are looking forward to working closely with Congresswoman Kiggans and her office to help increase the awareness of our School K-9 Safety Initiative and how our K-9s are helping to foster a safe and nurturing learning environment for our children, as well as the lifesaving work they are doing for agencies and other venues all around the country.”
American K-9 Interdiction is a veteran-owned business founded in 2001 with the goal of producing expertly trained canines and handlers. Located in Carrsville, Virginia, the facility sits on over 55 acres housing their headquarters, training facility, canine kennels, and student housing.
AK9I is accredited through the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV). Additionally, AK9I has a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)-approved program that allows them to retrain veterans under the GI Bill to become canine handlers. Nearly 75% of AK9I’s student handlers are veterans.
In addition to handler certifications, AK9I also contracts with local school districts in Hampton Roads as a part of their K-9 School Safety Initiative. This program puts K-9 units in schools with the goal of detecting drugs, firearms, explosives, and other illicit materials on campus. The program has had success at finding firearms and drugs in local schools and schools have reported large drops in overall violence and other problems when K-9 Teams are present.