Through Kay Schreiner’s efforts, nobody will have to walk the same path she did years ago. If the circumstances are the same, they’ll have a loyal four-legged companion walking the walk with them.

Schreiner, a domestic violence survivor and an animal trainer, has started a non-profit called Paws Against Domestic Violence, which will pair those experiencing the aftermath of domestic violence with a specially-trained companion dog. These dogs will help their humans find normalcy in their lives again.

Schreiner and her team held its kickoff fundraiser last Sunday — a “pawty” — at Marsoc’s K-9 Training Facility in St. Cloud, which also serves as Paws Against Domestic Violence’s home. At the event, Schreiner debuted the first two trained dogs: Bryer, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois rescued from Fort Myers, and Trista, a year-and-a-half year-old German Rottweiler.

Before introducing the dogs, she shared her story.

“After everything happened, I realized I was lost, I didn’t want to go out in public and started losing my identity,” she said. “It can happen to anyone — I was a first responder. My dogs were the re reason I was able to overcome all the difficulties I had from my past.

“This organization is important, it’s meant to train rescue shelter dogs that need a new start. We have to give them to foundation to be an emotional support dog. My goal is to find these dogs, rescue them, train and certify them and place them with survivors of domestic violence. These dogs are going to be able to protect them, give them emotional support. And we’re looking for those people who might not know there’s organizations out there to help them because they’re afraid to share their stories. This is a chance to help rebuild their lives.”

Kay Schreiner

Founder, Paws Against Domestic Violence

Schreiner is still seeking a corporate sponsor for Trista. The GSI Group has sponsored Bryer, and their logo will appear on his vest.

That sponsorship is important. It will cost between $8,000-$10,000 to fully vet and train one service dog. These costs include months of extensive training, shots for one year, kennel for new owner and all supplies to the owner of the rescue dog. Schreiner said PADV will cover those expenses rather than passing them on to the new owner. Sponsors paid for the kennels at her training facility.

So Kay seeks whatever support is possible from the community, be it time, talent or treasure. PADV’s Facebook page has information on how and where to donate, including a link to its GoFundMe page.

“Our biggest need right now? Everything,” Schreiner said Sunday with a laugh.

Last Sunday’s event featured vendors and service providers, like Help Now of Osceola County, a bounce house for the kids, DJ entertainment for everyone, and food sponsored by Graffiti Junktion Lake Nona.