SD Gunner, the namesake service dog for the Richmond Hill-based non profit SD Gunner Fund, has died of cancer, according to his owners.
Gunner, an exceptional Great Pyrenees, served as a loyal companion to U.S. Army veteran Sgt. Hamilton Kinard and his family.
According to a press release, in 2013, the dog became the first mobility service animal approved by the VA for traumatic brain injury in the Southeast Coastal region. He later played a crucial role in recognizing International Assistance Dog Week in Richmond Hill.
In 2018, he received the AKC's ACE Award for Canine Excellence – Military Service Dog, and the Great Pyrenees Club of America's Service Dog of the Year Award. His contributions earned him two Presidential Medals and numerous other recognitions.
In 2021, Gunner was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma. His owners, Hamilton and Britnee Kinard, sought alternatives for his treatment. This led to a pioneering amputation procedure carried out by Dr. Jeremy Faris at Port City Animal Hospital, the group said.
Gunner's recovery journey included receiving a custom prosthetic on the TV show, Wizard of Paws.
"We extend our deepest gratitude to the Savannah / Richmond Hill community and everyone nationwide who rallied behind Gunner, embodying the spirit of unity and support that Gunner himself personified so admirably." the group wrote. "In his memory, we pledge to continue serving and supporting those in need, one service animal at a time. A special note of thanks goes to Fox and Weeks Funeral Home’s Pets at Peace program, Allison Ragsdale, TruPanion, and Dr. Farris along with the entire team at Port City Animal Hospital for their invaluable contributions during Gunner's journey."
For more information about the SD Gunner Fund and ways to support its mission, visit www.sdgunner.org.