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The American Kennel Club (AKC) recently organized a relief effort to aid the working canines serving in Iraq after receiving word from a military veterinary technician serving overseas that "rest and relaxation" supplies were greatly needed. While the dogs are provided for in terms of basic care, many were without recreational toys and treats, which help alleviate stress and anxiety through play.

Thirty boxes of various items – collected from The Hartz Mountain Corporation, Nylabone, The Iams Company and Cherrybrook Pet Supply – were sent to kennels in two U.S. Army units, which maintain large kennels of K9 teams. Items included disc flyer toys, AKC Christmas stockings, pull toys, rawhide chews, rubber chew toys, AKC-licensed treats and glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, as well as blankets, cool-down towels and water dishes.

"From bomb detection to search and rescue, these canines provide an invaluable and critical service to our troops overseas," said Dennis B. Sprung, President and CEO of the AKC. "Like their human counterparts, the dogs work long hours under highly stressful conditions and they too need activities and comforts through which they can reduce stress and rejuvenate their bodies and minds."

One shipment was sent to a kennel in the unit of the veterinary technician who had first requested supplies, and the other shipment was sent to a kennel in the unit of Sgt. (P) Herman Haynes, USA. Sgt. Haynes and seven year-old, German Shepherd, "Frenke," were honored by the AKC in May and presented with the first DOGNY Heroic Military Working Dog Award for their exceptional service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"As always, we appreciate the generosity and continued support of our friends at Hartz, Nylabone, Iams and Cherrybrook, and we thank them for their assistance with this coordinated effort," added Sprung.