West Virginia Veteran Raising Money for Police Dogs to Honor K9 That Saved His Life in Iraq

by Matthew Memrick

A West Virginia veteran has a close connection with service K9s. In fact, one dog is the reason he is still here today.

Former Naval Special Warfare Operator James Hatch served during the U.S.’s engagement in Iraq and other deployments as a K9 handler.

The veteran was critically wounded on his final deployment but was spared death. The actions of his dog Spike kept him from dying, but unfortunately, the dog died. 

In returning home, Hatch had post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. He told WOWK-TV had suicidal thoughts, and his wife called the police to help one night. He said their kindness at that moment helped him on his road to recovery.

From then on, Hatch started the Spike K9 Fund with Spike and the police officers as his inspiration. 

“Each one of the stars in (the fund’s) logo represents a K9 that I served with,” Hatch said. ” and (those dogs) were killed in combat.

The veteran said he used the money to fix dogs that needed surgery that the city could not pay for with its funding.

Hatch’s Spike’s K9 Fund assists police officers and their K9 partners by supporting their medical bills and training. The fund’s home base is in Virginia Beach, Va.

Veteran Raising Money for Police Dogs in K9’s Honor

With the training, the fund pays for agility courses that keep both K9 and officer fit. Last month, the fund donated a K9 obstacle course to Honolulu police. This month, Hatch opened up a K9 training course in Barboursville, W.Va. Volunteer carpenters provided the work while Spike’s Fund and 84 Lumber helped in gathering the materials.

“It is a pretty tight bond,” Huntington Police Cpl. Ben Butler said. “A lot of people ask if it is like your best friend, but it’s more like your sibling.”

Another Huntington corporal and K9 handler said the new course would help prepare his dog for different situations. Kyle Patton told the Huntington Herald-Dispatch that before Barboursville’s new training course, dogs could only train at city parks.

Construction on the new Spike’s K9 Training Center began this week. The center aimed to help connect veterans and police officers. At the same time, the veteran said the group could learn and work effectively with their dog counterparts.

“Those dogs will willingly give up their lives for us, so I just want to do everything I can to make sure that I’m doing right by them,” Hatch said.

According to his website, the veteran will visit New York City to discuss his naval career and the fund’s work with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in October. The October 3 event, dubbed “Spike’s Soiree,” will include a dinner, K9 appearances, and an auction. The fund is seeking sponsors and groups that can donate items to the auction.