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Holly Cripps, center, receives a donation of $21,796 on July 2 from VCA Charities for We Ride To Provide, a charity she and her husband, Porterdale Police Chief Jason Cripps, behind her, began following the loss of Chief Cripp’s K-9 drug dog Beau. VCA Regional Operations Director Sue Black, in the flowered shirt at right, made the presentation.

PORTERDALE — Eleven VCA Animal Hospital locations throughout metro Atlanta together have successfully raised $21,796 to support the regionally selected local Georgia organization We Ride to Provide in the annual company-wide VCA Charities — Pennies for Pets campaign.

We Ride to Provide was created in Porterdale in 2009 with a mission to “pay tribute to those (K-9s) lost, by providing for those left behind.” Porterdale Police Chief Jason Cripps and his wife, Holly, began the organization to honor fallen K-9 Police dogs after the loss of Beau, Chief Cripps’ drug dog.

WRTP annually hosts a K-9 Memorial Event in Porterdale, with attendees including hundreds of police officers coming from near and far to honor their fallen K-9 partners. The most recent was the 11th annual event in March, with planning already started for the 2020 event.

After the death of another police dog in Georgia, Chief Cripps realized the need to train officers how to save their dog, so they did a first aid class.

Holly then realized the officers need the tools to save their beloved partners.

“Every time I say, ‘But, but ... ,’ he’s like, ‘Oh, boy, here we go!” said Holly, giggling. They made and gave away 50 first aid kits almost immediately.

Fast-forward 10 years, and WRTP has provided more than 2,600 kits to handlers across 10 countries. So far these kits have saved 13 police K-9s; one SAR (Search And Rescue) K-9; one personal assistant dog; four personal dogs; one officer, one suspect (domestic/hand through plate glass — handler saved him) and two victims of stabbing (again a handler used his kit to save them) — for a total of 23 lives saved.

All of the first aid kits and the annual memorial event is done through donations, but never has WRTP received a lump sum donation until now.

On Tuesday, July 2, a small gathering of people could be spotted outside of VCA Lilburn Animal Hospital, all viewing the memorial trailer that includes handwritten notes from officers honoring their fallen K-9s and bringing tears to everyone’s eyes. Inside, team members from many of the Atlanta area VCA Animal Hospitals locations were listening to stories shared by Holly and Chief Cripps before the oversized check was presented.

“It’s going to change everything,” Holly said after seeing how much money had been raised for WRTP through the VCA Charities fundraising efforts. Her reaction to the surprise donation amount was one of shock and awe. Tears flowed and smiles spread by everyone in attendance.

Officer A.J. Ajanovic of Lilburn Police Department and handler of K-9 Ajax were in attendance. After receiving the first aid kit from WRTP almost two years ago, he wanted to personally thank them for giving peace of mind, knowing he’s equipped to handle caring for Ajax in an emergency. While Ajanovic stumbled through his words, unable to fully express his gratefulness, Holly knew exactly what he meant. Instead of taking any credit, she thanked Ajanovic for his service and caring for his K-9, reminding him of the important role he plays in the community “each day he puts his badge on, puts his dog in the car, and go to work one of the hardest jobs in our world today.”

From March to June 2019, the eleven Atlanta-Area VCA Animal Hospital locations collected donations through VCA Charities, the nonprofit partner of VCA, the nation’s largest animal hospital network. They did so by encouraging clients to round up their transaction amounts to the nearest dollar, or donating $20 or more to receive a VCA Woof of Meow hat, and also through online donations.

“We had clients donating $99 to sponsor a full kit, rather than donating their pennies,” said Susan Goodman, hospital manager of VCA Falcon Village Animal Hospital.

“Everyone really felt compelled to donate to this amazing cause and organization,” proclaimed Ashley Wilson, hospital manager of VCA Braelinn Village Animal Hospital.

This is the first of many donation presentations that will be made in the coming weeks to regionally selected local animal welfare organizations across the U.S.

“Our Pennies for Pets campaign brings increased awareness for pet welfare charities here in our community and encourages involvement from both hospital clients and associates,” said Sue Black, VCA Regional Operations Director in the Atlanta area. “We are proud to be part of this nationwide effort that in its first two years has successfully raised and donated over $1 million to various local organizations across the country. Together, we can. And to We Ride To Provide, we just did.”

For more information on We Ride to Provide, find them on Facebook — WRTP — K-9 Memorial Page @WRTPK9.

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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