Providing Free Healthcare to America’s Hero Dogs

Staff Sergeant Nico

Retired Military Working Dog, Staff Sergeant Nico

Partners On and Off the Battlefield

The first thing Sgt. Calvin Aguilar requested when he groggily awoke from surgery was to see Staff Sergeant (SSG) Nico. The two partners had been deployed to Afghanistan together, and like all soldiers they watched each other’s back during times of danger. In fact, the two didn’t leave each other’s side until Sgt. Aguilar was rushed to surgery following a battlefield injury. Even then, Sgt. Aguilar was only able to see SSG Nico after receiving special permission, because unlike other hospital visitors, Nico had four legs instead of two.

A New Lease on Life

Nico and Sgt. Aguilar have been together for six years, but Nico no longer works as a Military Working Dog due to the extensive trauma he experienced during his deployment. Sgt. Aguilar made it his personal mission to provide a more comfortable life for Nico after the four-legged hero retired. Now, instead of fighting together as a team on the battlefield, these two Battle Buddies get to relax and spend time together at home out of danger. One of Nico’s favorite playmates and biggest fans is Sgt. Aguilar’s daughter, Isabella.

Even though human veterans are guaranteed medical care, their canine counterparts are not. One way Sgt. Aguilar is able to provide care for Nico, is through the help of an in-kind donation from Banfield Pet Hospital. The American Humane Association and Banfield Pet Hospital teamed up in 2016 to provide one year of preventive veterinary care to 14 heroic four-legged veterans. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from Banfield’s charitable arm, the Banfield Foundation, we can now provide even more military working dogs like Nico with the veterinary services they need and deserve.

The Journey to Well-Being

Three days after the Battle Buddies preventive care program began, Nico was off to his first appointment. After receiving a big hug from Isabella, Nico excitedly hopped into the car with Sgt. Aguilar and the two drove from their home in Texas to a local Banfield hospital. The two weren’t quite sure what to expect, but once they were inside the hospital, it was clear they were in good hands.

The hospital was painted in cheerful colors and the staff members were very welcoming. Sgt. Aguilar described the check-up as “pleasant and professional.” Because of this preventive medical care, the vet examining Nico was able to diagnose that Nico had pannus, a condition that can lead to blindness if left untreated. Fortunately for Nico the condition was caught early, and he was able to receive immediate treatment.

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How You Can Help

With their unparalleled ability to sniff out and detect explosives and other dangers, it is estimated that each military working dog saves the lives of between 150-200 soldiers. Despite their service to this country, these four-legged heroes are still not guaranteed medical care after their retirement. Help us ensure primary veterinary care for more of the nation’s retired military dogs. Your gift today can help provide these heroes with the retirement they deserve. For more information, please contact Scott Sowers at 1-866-242-1877 or

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