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Philanthropist Lois Pope And American Humane Association To Celebrate Valor And Courage Of Military Dogs And Their Handlers At Special "K-9 Battle Buddies" Luncheon In Palm Beach

Tickets still available for special event at Mar-a-Lago Club honoring four courageous military dog teams, featuring special guests country music legend Naomi Judd, America's Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, Battle of Mogadishu hero Army Sergeant Matt Eversm

PALM BEACH, Fla., Feb. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- All Americans owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to military dogs and their hero handlers on the other end of the leash, and next month these brave two- and four-legged members of the military will be honored at a very special event in Palm Beach. Philanthropist Lois Pope and American Humane Association, the country's first national humane organization, will welcome four military dog teams to the "K-9 Battle Buddies Luncheon" at the Mar-a-Lago Club on Tuesday, March 17. Also appearing will be country music legend Naomi Judd, "America's Veterinarian" Dr. Marty Becker, and guests will enjoy special musical performances from "American Idol's" Stefano Langone, the Alex Donner Orchestra, and the widely acclaimed singing duo of Will and Anthony Nunziata. Rounding out the touching afternoon will be a special address on values-based leadership from retired Army First Sergeant Matt Eversmann, one of the heroes of the Battle of Mogadishu whose story was immortalized by actor Josh Harnett in the film, "Black Hawk Down."

The bravery and valor of military dogs and their human handlers will be celebrated at American Humane Association's "K-9 Battle Buddies Luncheon" sponsored by Mrs. Lois Pope at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. on March 17.

Guests at Mar-a-Lago will be treated to tales of courage and valor from military dog teams Sergeant Matt Hatala and MWD Chaney, Corporal Jeff DeYoung and MWD Cena, Corporal Jonathan Cavender and MWD Maxi, and Corporal Nick Caceres and MWD Fieldy. The American public named Chaney as the Military Dog of the Year at the 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, which was also sponsored by Mrs. Pope.

For the past year, Mrs. Pope and American Humane Association have worked to bring home and honor military dogs everywhere. Lois Pope and American Humane Association are deeply committed to ensuring that all our military dogs are brought home to the United States and given the opportunity to live out their retirements with the brave human handlers who worked hand-in-paw with them on the hot desert sands of Iraq and Afghanistan, and on bases around the world. With an estimated 2,500 military working dogs and contract working dogs working side by side with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need has never been greater to bring each dog home. The dogs have noses that are 100,000 times more sensitive than humans', giving them an unparalleled ability to sniff out and detect weapons caches and Improvised Explosive Devices. It is estimated that each military working dog saves the lives of between 150-200 service members.

Cena, Maxi, and Fieldy were all brought home in 2014 and reunited with their human handlers as part of American Humane Association's K-9 Battle Buddies program. On November 11, 2014, these three recently reunited military dog teams marched in New York City's Veterans Day parade as part of a special American Humane Association float sponsored by Mrs. Pope to honor the importance of dogs to the military.

Sergeant Eversmann has received many military decorations, including the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Ribbon, eight Army Achievement medals, and four Army Commendation medals. For his service in Somalia, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor device and the Combat Infantryman's Badge. Before his retirement in early 2008, Sergeant Eversmann served 15 months in Iraq, leading an elite infantry force. He will be joined at the luncheon by Army Rangers Corey Goltz, Chad Jenkins, Steve Holloway Jarrod Ryan, and Douglas Gray.

"This luncheon is about heroism and valor that all of these brave two- and four-legged soldiers have exhibited under the most trying of conditions," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association's president and CEO. We know this event will be one of the most moving and powerful of the Palm Beach season and we thank Mrs. Lois Pope for her gracious sponsorship of this luncheon and all she does to make a more humane world for our children, animals, and veterans."

"I cannot thank these four military dog teams and Sergeant Eversmann enough for their service to America and for protecting our freedoms," said Mrs. Pope. "Many people do not know of the importance of dogs to our military, and we need to do all we can to honor them. I share American Humane Association's dedication to ensuring a safe journey home for all military dogs so they can live out their retirements with the heroes they worked with side by side to protect their fellow brothers and sisters-in-arms."

Information about the March 17th "K-9 Battle Buddies" gala luncheon can be provided by Jill Nizan at [email protected] or by calling 1-800-227-4645. Jet Paws and Military Freedom sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Information on the K-9 Battle Buddy Teams to be Honored at Mar-a-Lago on March 17

Sergeant Matt Hatala & MWD Chaney
Eight-year-old lab Chaney retired from the Marines in 2013 after multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an IED detection dog. While deployed with Sgt. Hatala, Chaney not only saved countless lives by locating IEDs, but he also served as a great morale booster for everyone in his squad. Since retiring, Chaney was adopted by Sgt. Hatala and they now spend many hours volunteering around the Midwest for a nonprofit organization called Retrieving Freedom, Inc., which trains service dogs for disabled veterans and children with autism. In September 2014, Chaney was honored as the Military Dog of the Year at the fourth annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™ with Sgt. Hatala giving an impassioned acceptance speech on the importance of all veterans helping their fellow veterans in need.

Corporal Jeff DeYoung & MWD Cena
This brave pair served together in the United States Marine Corps and served one tour of duty together from October 2009 to April 2010 as part of Operation Moshtarak, the largest military operation in Afghanistan at the time. Cena served a total of four years in the military, and was separated from Corporal DeYoung for four years, one month, and eight days. They had a tearful reunion on June 5, 2014 with help from American Humane Association and the pair now lives in Muskegon, Michigan. "He's not my best friend. He's my brother," said DeYoung, referring to his deployment with Cena. The pair joined American Humane Association and Mrs. Lois Pope on the special Veterans Day Parade float honoring all military dogs in New York City last November.

Corporal Jonathan Cavender & MWD Maxi
On August 28, 2014, Marine Corps Corporal Jonathan Cavender was reunited with MWD Maxi, a Belgian Malinois with whom he served with for two years in Japan. Their special reunion was made possible with the help of American Humane Association. Maxi is a 12-year old specialized Improvised Detection Dog who helped detect explosives while on deployment in Iraq and served as a military police dog in Japan. Maxi served with Corporal Cavender for two years at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan. Corporal Cavender, a native of Richmond, Texas, is currently based in Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. The pair joined American Humane Association and Mrs. Lois Pope on the special Veterans Day Parade float honoring all military dogs in New York City last November. 

Corporal Nick Caceres & MWD Fieldy
After over three years apart, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Corporal Nick Caceres was reunited with Fieldy, the Contract Working Dog (CWD) he served with in Afghanistan. The reunion took place at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas with the help of American Humane Association. "I trusted him with my life and he never me down," said Caceres of his service with Fieldy in Afghanistan. "The bond we shared was so special and I'm so thankful to be able to adopt him and care for him in his retirement." The pair joined American Humane Association and Mrs. Lois Pope on the special Veterans Day Parade float honoring all military dogs in New York City last November.

About American Humane Association
American Humane Association is the country's first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we're also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at today.

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)
As one of America's leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels.  She has established three separate organizations dedicated to helping those in need.  These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans' Life Memorial Foundation.  For more than 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane Association in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated two Lois Pope Red Star Rescue Vehicles. Each rescue vehicle is a 50-foot long response unit, complete with a Ford F-350 truck and trailer, which is specifically designed and outfitted to provide an array of animal emergency services and cruelty responses within the region. 

Mrs. Pope recently saw the completion of a decade's long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington, DC on Sunday, October 5, 2014. The Memorial will forever stand as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million living disabled veterans and all those who died before them for the need to be vigilant in assuring their support, as well as being aware of the human cost of war.

A mother and a grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.

To learn more visit or call 561.582.8083. 

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