Semper K9 HQ Will Offer Greater Comfort, Opportunities for Veterans & Service Dogs
Semper K9 Assistance Dogs is a passion for Marine Corps combat veteran Christopher Baity and his wife Amanda Baity. They formed the nonprofit in 2014 to rescue dogs to train as service animals for military veterans living with injuries or PTSD. When Manassas-based architect Sean Porter, owner of Loveless Porter Architects, learned about the duo, he too became passionate about their mission. He has since donated dozens of hours of design and consulting services free of charge to help them open Camp Semper K9, which will serve as the growing organization’s headquarters and training facility.
Currently, Semper K9 is run out of the Baity’s suburban home. “We are limited in the amount of dogs we can take in and the veterans we can help,” said Amanda. “It’s also hard to coordinate with our volunteers because they can’t come and go freely to get what they need. Not to mention our own kids running around the house makes it a challenge to keep the business organized.”
The Baity’s considered many properties before settling on a 33-acre facility outside of Marine Corps Base Quantico, which Porter evaluated to ensure it could meet the organization’s long term goals. Once complete, Camp Semper K9 will serve as a central location from which the organization can train dogs, coordinate with volunteers, familiarize veterans with their new service animals and expand operations over time. Amanda said that being featured on Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor” has led to increased demand for services as well as more inquiries from potential volunteers. The episode now has more than 10 million views.
Fortunately, things are moving quickly at Camp Semper K9. In July, Porter finalized designs for the main building, submitting them to Fauquier County for pre-approval. Work should begin later this year, with expected completion in Spring 2019. Baity explained that the main facility is designed like a large home, so that the dogs are trained in the same environment in which they will eventually live, rather than a kennel setting. There is also space for the veterans to stay on site while trainers teach them how to work with their dogs.
“Sean has designed exactly what we need. The dogs need to be trained in a place that resembles a home because that is where they will be working,” said Amanda. “It’s also nice to have the building set up like a house because it will make our veterans feel welcome and comfortable.” Currently, veterans stay at a Holiday Inn off-premises.
As operations grow, Porter will next design tiny houses that will allow Semper K9 to accommodate more veterans, and provide space for additional services and life skills training.
“I was looking for a project that would allow me to use my skill set to help veterans. Semper K9 could not have been a more perfect fit. I am honored to be a part of their journey,” Porter said. “I can’t wait to see them use the space we are creating together to help both veterans and rescue dogs.”
“Sean also tries to connect us with others who will either donate in-kind services or offer discounted rates. It is very humbling to see the outpouring of love and support from people who want to give their time and/or resources in support of our military veterans,” said Amanda.
Those interested in supporting Semper K9 can learn more at www.SemperK9.org, including opportunities to name the tiny homes in exchange for the donation of building materials, labor, furnishings and home decor. To learn more about Loveless Porter Architects, and other community projects the firm supports, visit www.LovelessPorterArchitects.com.