On Wednesday, February 17th, 2016, SGT Ricky Mendez, USMC, graduated the Shelter to Soldier™ program with his new service dog, Plato.

Shelter to Soldier™ CoFounders, Kyrié and Graham Bloem, adopted Plato from a rescue group in the LA area in February 2015 under the corporate sponsorship of Plato Pet Treats and their philanthropic program, Plato Wags Back. Over one-year’s time, Plato Pet Treats donated $12,000 toward the adoption, care, housing, training and graduation of Plato through our program in addition to a year’s worth of pet treats. They also generously donated silent auction items to all of our fundraising events during their partnership with Shelter to Soldier™. We feel honored to have been the recipient of such generous corporate giving, as we know that their contribution indeed helped us “Save Lives, Two at a Time” with the adoption of Plato and his subsequent placement with USMC veteran, Ricky. A short documentary film, organized and produced by the Plato Pet Treats team, will highlight the impact our organization has on the lives of shelter dogs and post-9/11 combat veterans by documenting Plato and Ricky’s journey with Shelter to Soldier™.

The pair had been in handler training for 5 months prior to graduation, during which time Ricky learned all about Plato’s service dog training, psychiatric service tasks, and how to be a good handler of Plato in public settings. Their graduation was a special platform to honor Ricky for his brave service and countless sacrifices as well as celebrate Ricky and Plato on their hard work together as a team. Cecilia Meech, Plato Pet Treats representative in San Diego, attended the graduation on behalf of the Plato Pet Treats team whose headquarters are in Los Angeles, CA. We had the privilege of working with Moving Map Pictures who filmed the graduation ceremony.

Pay It Forward Processing also attended the event to celebrate the success of Ricky and Plato and also to present a check in the amount of $2124.44 raised through their charitable merchant processing platform, Every Swipe Benefits Charity. Shelter to Soldier™ is so pleased to be Pay It Forward nonprofit partner!

Brad Fite, author of Life After Death, acclaimed novel about the struggle with Post Traumatic Stress after traumatic combat experiences and rising above the diagnosis and injuries in everyday US society and Amazon Best Seller, spoke at the event to shed light on the reality of combat in the Middle East, his severe injuries incurred during his service overseas, and the recovery process that has lead him on a journey to serve our veterans on the home front and raise awareness of the troubling epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress for the brave men and women who defend our freedoms.

Congratulations Ricky & Plato!

Other Success Stories

  • Ben + Tank

    San Diego, CA

    Tank came into our program in June 2014 through the sponsorship of The Wintercreek Foundation. Ben applied to our program in the Spring of 2015, and was perhaps one of our most driven applicants.

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  • James + Calver

    San Diego, CA

    Calver is a 3 year-old, male standard schnauzer. His dad, James, applied to Shelter to Soldier™ and was approved to be a recipient due to his diagnosis of TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)

    Learn more

  • Vic + Kira

    San Diego, CA

    Kira is a loving 4 year old female labrador/pit mix. She was rescued just in time to allow her the opportunity to live a happy, loving and purposeful life.

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