October 22, 2019

It’s #MakeADogsDay today (October 22nd, 2019) and our Shelter to Soldier pups are celebrating in true rescue fashion! Our service dog trainees really do enjoy the sweet life every day, with regular training sessions they love, amazing bones donated by Barkley’s Bag, and the best public access training outings ever. Not to mention, once graduated, they get to work with their veteran handler every day. It’s our daily practice to show them gratitude for the amazing work they do for our veterans, and the leaps and bounds they have come in training since their adoption day. Isn’t it great to have a day dedicated to making them feel extra special? We think so!

How can YOU #MakeADogsDay today for our Shelter to Soldier service dogs in training and those we have yet to adopt?

  • DONATE Today – A gift as small as $10 goes a long way for our dogs in training. Plus, through the month of October, the Petco Foundation is matching all donations up to $20,000 made to Shelter to Soldier. Even more reason to give!
  • Pledge TODAY and begin planning for a #GivingTuesday fundraiser to maximize your impact on the world’s largest day of giving, December 3, 2019. Share with your friends and family and get them involved to make a difference in our mission of “Saving Lives, Two at a Time™!
  • Do the double: 1) Set up Shelter to Soldier as your Amazon Smile charity of choice so that Shelter to Soldier receives a donation from Amazon for EVERY purchase you make when shopping from AmazonSmile.com 2) Place an order for #MakeADogsDay presents for our service dog trainees and new adoptions! See our wish list below. Please drop off or ship wish list items to our training facility: Shelter to Soldier, 2909 San Luis Rey Rd. Oceanside, CA 92058.
  • Share our mission and this blog with your network of friends and family!

Shelter to Soldier #MakeADog’sDay Wish List:

  • Zuke’s Mini Naturals training treats
  • Bully Sticks (12 in)
  • Whimzees Large chews (any shape)
  • Large and XLarge Kong (stuffable) chew toys
  • Pig Ears – made in the USA, Bulk options available
  • Large, XLarge and Jumbo split elk antlers
  • Pet Botanics Training Rewards Treats
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats – Wild Bits
  • Merrick Power Bites Training Treats
  • Cloud Star Chewy Tricky Trainer Training Treats
  • Stewart Freeze Dried Liver Treats
  • Crazy Dog Train Me Training Reward Treats
  • Natural Balance Mini Rewards
  • Natural Balance Food Roll (we cut them up and use as high value treats)

Honoring a Hero: Aaron Neely

May 1, 2019

Aaron Neely served in the Navy as a Chaplain’s assistant from 2002-2008. Between 2003-2005 he served three tours in Iraq with a Marine Corps infantry battalion to include the march to Baghdad and the first push through Fallujah. Aaron started having symptoms of PTSD in 2003 but was not diagnosed until 2006 after a suicide attempt.

The following years would reveal the beginning of a long battle with PTSD and other mental health diagnoses that would result in a medical retirement from the Navy and a daily struggle to stay alive.
Aaron was connected with Shelter to Soldier and a new phase of recovery began. Aaron was paired with service dog “Liberty” and began to experience a new found confidence and an acceleration of healing.  He began leaving the house by himself, driving, taking care of more of his daily needs. He began living life!
“Liberty has been a game changer!  Before her I was barely leaving the house alone and struggling to connect with anybody outside my immediate family.  Since entering the program I have found new confidence and a desire to experience life.  I’m reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.”
– Aaron Neely
Currently Aaron is enjoying life with his service dog and growing closer to his family.  He hopes to use his own experiences to encourage other veterans to seek help.
“Previously, I felt as if I was dying of a mental illness. Now,  I feel like I am really living.”
– Aaron Neely
We are so very proud of Aaron an his journey, and we look forward to honoring this hero next Wednesday, 5/8 at the San Diego Gulls second round playoff game. We hope you’ll join us!

Shelter to Soldier Monthly Giving

February 16, 2019

For as little as $10 a month you can Save Lives, Two at a Time™ by supporting our service dog training program, which pairs trained shelter dogs together with combat veterans to help both move forward and live fulfilling lives.

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Click here to give a monthly gift today and make your life-saving impact on the lives of shelter dogs and veterans in need.

Shelter to Soldier would like to express many thanks to Cox Communications for sponsoring this PSA spot and playing the commercial nearly 1000 times through December and January. Thank you to De Facto Ent. for producing the video at a heavily discounted rate. We could not do the work we do without the support of our community!

Shelter to Soldier Celebrates 6th Annual Be the Light Gala to raise funds for shelter dogs and veterans in need

September 7, 2018

On Saturday, August 25th, Shelter to Soldier hosted its 6th Annual Be the Light Gala at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine presented by Cox Communications and in partnership with Ranch & Coast Magazine and Redfearn & Associates. Other event Sponsors included Davenport Executive Search, Second Chance Beer Company, Chamber wines, Christian Brothers, The Wood Family, HR Prime, Companion Pet Care, and Avion Law. Musical artist K. Emeline and live painter Amy Burkman provided exciting entertainment for the evening.

Over 200 guests joined in the celebration, participating in silent and live auctions by Clint Bell auctioneer, that raised $88,000 for the program.

On behalf of the Shelter to Soldier team, we are extremely thankful for the generous support of our community that came together to donate auction items and to volunteer their time and support. We appreciate the generosity of the guests who attended and contributed significantly to the Gala’s fundraising effort. We look forward to another year of “Saving Lives, Two at a Time” with this momentum and are honored to have all of you join us on the journey.

You can catch exciting moments of the evening here.

Thank you to our fantastic photography partners, Monica Hoover Photography, our event photographer, and Nine10 Photo Booth Images for our fun Photo Booth and red carpet photography!

Shelter to Soldier™ Color Pages for our Littlest Supporters!

March 15, 2018

We all know the importance of service dog education, especially amongst our youngest animal welfare ambassadors. For this reason, Shelter to Soldier™ service dog recipient and Veteran Advocate, Vic Martin, created this amazing color page for our littlest supporters. Its a great way to open up the conversation with them about the incredible role of service dogs and the etiquette with which we should treat them in public. Have fun and make sure to #SavingLives2ataTime to show us your colorful creations on Facebook and Instagram! On April 14th we will announce a winner to receive a STS trucker hat or t-shirt! Open to all ages 12 and under for the drawing, but anyone may participate in the activity and hashtag. Enjoy!


Downloadable PDF link below:


Shelter to Soldier™ Red Star Sponsor Thank You Soirée acknowledged the impact of Platinum and Red Star Sponsors on our service dog program

On February 24th, Shelter to Soldier™ and supporter Holli Lienau hosted Shelter to Soldier™’s First Annual Red Star Sponsor Thank You Soirée, where the program’s sponsors were acknowledged for their life-saving impact on the program. From the entire Shelter to Soldier™ team, we thank you all for your continued support of our mission. Thank you for getting your companies and foundations behind our cause, for believing in the work we do, and for giving so generously to our program. It is because of each and every one of you that we are able to carry out our mission today and save the lives of shelter dogs and veterans in need, every day. Thank you.

We would like to extend our most sincere thanks to longtime supporter of Shelter to Soldier™, Holli Lienau. Holli opened her home to our program and helped to create an event that was truly one to remember, and perfect for honoring the impact our sponsors have made on our growth. Over the years, she has run her own fundraiser for Shelter to Soldier™ through a Super Bowl party with her friends and family and she also serves as an event Co-Chair for our annual gala (2017 and 2018). We are so thankful to have her as a special part of the Shelter to Soldier™ family and we were thrilled to enjoy such an incredible event in the breathtaking scenery of her home located in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. We look very forward to adopting a new dog for our program under your generous sponsorship of our program.

We hope you enjoy the photos of our Red Star and Platinum Star Sponsors at our Thank You Soirée below. Thank you to the amazing Monica Hoover Photography for capturing such amazing images, to Sundried Tomato Catering for the delicious small bites and pizzas, to Tim Foley for amazing musical entertainment that captured the interest of every guest, and to Decorated Confections for the delectable and beautiful desserts! A huge thanks to our volunteer team, service dog handlers, veterans and service dogs for volunteering your time to our mission and this event.


North County Supports Shelter to Soldier™

September 2, 2017

North County Supports Shelter To Soldier Brings Hair-Razing Fundraiser to Vista

VISTA — North County Supports Shelter To Soldier (NCSSTS) will assist with staging an upcoming fundraiser in the group’s efforts to aid a nonprofit organization that provides service dogs free of charge to military veterans in need. The event will feature long-haired and bearded volunteers who have offered to be shaved during the afternoon party. Offering up their heads and faces for charity are Joe Kuntz, Alina Diaz, Daniel Humann and Jake Jucenas. Chances to shave these volunteers will be raffled off during the event. Event tickets for attendees at a concurrent “Sadie Hawkins” Dinner Party will be available for $10 apiece.

Date/Time: Saturday, September 2, Noon

Location: Alvin Myo Dunn American Legion Post 365, 1234 S. Santa Fe Ave., Vista, CA 92084

Proceeds from event the will go to Shelter to Soldier™, which describes its organizational mission as “saving lives two at a time,” first by rescuing dogs at risk of being euthanized for lack of shelter space, and second by training and partnering those dogs as psychiatric service companions for recently separated veterans of military service, especially those diagnosed as experiencing post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and depression.

The post-service casualty rate, according to the Veterans Administration, is loss of 22 to 23 U.S. military veterans committing suicide daily. Among homeless dogs, about 2.7 million are put to death annually, for scarcity of adoptive homes and shelter space. Those startling numbers inspired longtime dog trainer Graham Bloem and his wife, Kyrié, to found Shelter to Soldier™ in 2012.

On average, the care, boarding and training costs for each STS dog total $12,000. During this current fundraising year, NCSSTS is near to reaching the goal of paying for one service dog for a veteran in need.

Congratulations Luna and Jeremy!

August 31, 2017


Shelter to Soldier™ is proud to announce that on June 28th, 2017, US Marine Veteran Jeremy Engle and his Shelter to Soldier™ service dog, Luna, graduated our program! 
This goofy girl had a tough start in life, but her journey lead her to Shelter to Soldier™. She was found by a close friend of our co-founders, Graham and Kyrie Bloem, as a stray on the streets of Tijuana, Mexico. She was suffering from severe mange and malnutrition. Thankfully, her rescuer Leigh Ann got her the medical care she needed for a full recovery. After evaluating her in her healthy state, we knew she would make a great addition to our program! 
Luna was a rockstar from the beginning! It was clear very early on that she loved to work and was happy to learn. After almost a year of training with our professional training team, Luna was a new, highly trained dog and we knew she was ready for the next stage of her journey. She was soon matched with her veteran, Jeremy Engle!  The pair had an instant bond, and worked together to strengthen this bond through months of handler training. They completed our program ready to start a new life together and shortly after graduation, they made a family move to Georgia! We are so happy for Luna and Jeremy!  
Luna’s housing, food, care and training were generously sponsored by our Red Star Sponsors at Integriv, whose dedication to supporting their community has been directly responsible for saving two lives, and giving both Jeremy and Luna a second chance at greatness. This was Integriv’s second sponsorship through our program, as they previously made possible the placement of Shelter to Soldier™ service dog Jade with veteran Chris Meyer-Ontiveros.
Click the icon below to see the YouTube video we put together of Luna and Jeremy’s graduation ceremony!

Introducing NCSSTS

February 24, 2017

North County Supports Shelter to Soldier™ (NCSSTS) is an incredible group of people who have come together for the sole purpose of raising funds, support, and awareness for the Shelter to Soldier™ mission of “Saving Lives Two at a Time.”
NCSSTS is based out of Vista’s Alvin Myo Dunn American Legion Post 365 and their executive committee has already planned various events to take place throughout the year with the main goal of raising enough funds to sponsor at least one new dog through the STS service dog training program. The cost to sponsor a dog for the duration of their time with us is $12,000 which includes adoption, housing, medical care, food, and training for the 12-18 month training program. Though every donation counts and helps us inch closer to our next rescue and veteran pairing, sponsors like NCSSTS are vital to the overall success of our organization. The extreme generosity shown by this group in committing volunteer hours, fundraising efforts, and spreading awareness for our cause will undoubtedly lead to a new furry face being adopted from a local shelter and a new veteran receiving a companion that will give them a new lease on life.
Not wasting any time, the NCSSTS team has already been hard at work planning a few events over the next few months. On February 25th, they will be hosting a Veteran’s Formal Ball.
These events are also on their calendar for the upcoming months; all proceeds for these events will go toward supporting the Shelter to Soldier™ mission:
March 4th: a Motorocycle Poker Run in conjunction with ALR-365 Riders
March 12th: a St. Patrick’s Dog Walk
For more information on the Dog Walk, please visit: https://www.classy.org/vista/events/north-county-supports-shelter-to-soldier-dog-walk/e116425.
Information on other events can be acquired by inquiry to NorthCountySSTS@gmail.com or by phoning the Vista American Legion Post (760) 726-0472.

Shelter to Soldier™: Get Your Kids Involved in the Fun!

February 8, 2017

During the month of February, Shelter to Soldier™ wanted to do something fun to get kids involved, not only in our mission but also in doggy safety. We have decided to host a fun coloring contest!

We are encouraging little ones to show their support for Shelter to Soldier™ by coloring these pages and sending them back to us! Simply click the picture below, print, and color away!

You can email them to info@sheltertosoldier.org or mail them to Shelter to Soldier™, 2665 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103.

We will choose a winner and announce them on March 15th! The winner will be sent an STS water bottle and t-shirt!

Happy coloring!

Kira Color Page



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