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“Pup”-blicity

Our message is being heard! The “pup”-blicity for K9s4COPs is reaching far and wide, thanks to recent national television and magazine features.

Ironically, it all started back on New Year’s Day with a larger-than-life, botanical K9 Johnny Cash parading down the streets of Pasadena, Calif., in the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade.

Let me be perfectly honest, underwriting a Rose Parade float is an exorbitant undertaking—one I couldn’t begin to do without the sponsorship of Energy XXI—but it was the publicity that we needed to raise national awareness to our mission—raising money to purchase trained K9s for cash-strapped police departments, and now, school districts through our K9s4KIDs initiative.

Our Facebook “likes” and website hits grew exponentially. Then national media outlets picked up our story.

People magazine called. They featured K9s4COPs as part of their “Heroes Among Us” profiles. Our story was shared with nearly 50 million readers of America’s most popular celebrity news and human-interest magazine.

Shortly after People published the feature in their July 28th issue, we were honored to visit with award-winning broadcast journalist Janet Shamlian and her camera crew for feature on “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.”

Shamlian went behind the scenes with me and watched dogs become trained K9s at Houston K9 Academy for the segment, which aired on August 7. She also learned how valuable K9s are to community safety. K9s not only keep drugs and munitions off the street, but even more important, they help keep those defending our communities safe.

CultureMap Houston also plugged the People article for us, and just recently, the Houston Business Journal caught up with me for a short Q&A segment.

Now, we’re gearing up for a trip to New York City. My own personal protection K9—my “shadow sentential” Johnny Cash will ring the opening bell at NASDAQ stock exchange on September 8. He will be honoring the memory of K9 Sirius, who died in the line on duty at the World Trade Center on September 11th, and all the other gallant K9s and their handlers who put their lives on the line to keep us all safe.

Shadow Sentinels

Every time I learn of another school shooting I can’t help but think what if a K9 had been present?

Teachers packing heat aren’t the answer. They underpaid superheroes to begin with; they don’t need this added responsibility. Even if they’re certified to carry, do they have to time to go the range and maintain their skills? I’m fortunate enough to have my own gun range and know what it takes to remain proficient with firearms. It takes work! I could not imagine trying to maintain that precision while trying to herd 25 screaming first graders!

What happens when children are hit with “friendly fire” from a person with the very best of intentions? You can control a weapon but what about those children around it? Who is going to stop a panicking child from running where they shouldn’t? That’s the teachers job. Keeping them out of harm’s way not inadvertently putting them there!

What if the weapon falls into the hands of a child? Or one of those students on edge that are often at the heart of theses tragic shootings?

I believe K9s are the deterrents we should be seeking. A K9 isn’t going to stop an active shooter situation, but he can sure buy an extra 45 seconds for those seeking safety or signal when someone’s entering campus with gunshot residue on their hands or firearms, or heaven forbid, explosives, in their backpacks! It’s already well documented as to how successful K9s are at keeping drugs off of campuses, why should firearms be any different?

People DO NOT realize how highly trained these dogs truly are! They might not be able to “detect crazy” but trust me their instincts on crazy are way better than ours! How many times have we seen stories where household pets have alerted their owners to dangerous situations? How about the dog that warned the family off of the abusive babysitter? The dogs, on their own, have that instinct. K9s are selected for that superior trait and it’s honed to perfection through training.

Take our own “Shadow Sentinels,” our personal protection K9s. I can’t fathom the safety of my child without her “ninja nanny.” My daughter Sinclair is 40 pounds, dripping wet. If someone was to grab her and starting running, there’s not much she can do. With K9 Daisy at her side, the odds of a stranger danger dramatically decrease.

All it takes is one code word (usually in Czech, Dutch or German) to put Daisy in stealth mode. She locks on an assailant to give Sinclair a chance to get free. When the code word for stop is engaged, she immediately stops and goes back to family pet mode. Again, the switch is immediate, from jaws clamped around an attacker one second to being attacked by pets and praise by a group of children in another.

K9s4KIDs may not be the best answer, but until someone comes up with a better one that doesn’t involve outfitting our kids in heavy Kevlar backpacks, I’m not budging.

-Kristi Schiller

Kristi Schiller helps cash-strapped law enforcement agencies buy top-notch police dogs

Kristi Schiller, the engaging head of K9s4COPs, helps cash-strapped law enforcement agencies buy top-notch police dogs

Kristi, Johnny Cash & Daisy

Kristi Schiller was watching the 10 p.m. news when the grief-stricken figure of Harris County deputy constable Ted Dahlin filled her TV screen.

It was clear what had happened: Man and dog had been in pursuit of burglary suspects when the dog sped ahead. The highly trained canine cornered at least one of four young men, but a fifth came up from behind and choked the dog to death.

That December 2010, Schiller started learning as much as she could about police dogs and their officers. She hoped Dahlin’s dog, Blek, would be replaced swiftly, but she discovered that was highly unlikely. Dahlin would have to do desk duty until he himself could scrape up the  $15,000 it would take to replace his partner. And fundraising efforts tended to be low-wattage affairs – bake sales, barbecues and car washes.

Schiller, a lifelong volunteer, decided to wade in. In 2010, she started K9s4COPs, a non-profit group that helps law enforcement agencies here and across the country buy top-quality police dogs. Today, K9s4COPs has put more than 90 canines on the streets, and in 2013 Schiller started the initiative,  K9s4KIDs, which is helping to beef up security at school campuses across the nation.

Early on, Schiller and her husband, Oil and Gas Chairman, John Schiller, personally underwrote the program. Over time, however, generous Houstonians and law enforcement officers from across the country have opened their wallets, too.

Supporters want to strengthen the ties between communities and the men and women who work to keep them safe.

Also, it’s hard to resist Schiller and her king shepherd, Johnny Cash.

The dog, who doubles as a mascot and security guard, is 140 pounds and an expressive, gentle giant. At 41, Schiller still looks like the media personality and model she used to be. She’s been compared to both Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball. She looks like Monroe, acts like Ball and makes visitors feel as if they are a part of her high-society world.

She’s all business, however, when she’s talking about the important roles dogs play in police work.

“Sadly, Blek died,” Schiller says, “but Ted Dahlin went home to his wife and children.”

READY FOR FAME

Schiller grew up in Brazosport, where, she says, the road meets the Gulf of Mexico. Her family was in the offshore-boat business, and she ate raw oysters for after-school snacks.

After attending the University of Houston, Schiller took a job in an early version of entertainment TV.

The show, “Day and Date,” was canceled after 13 weeks, but Schiller couldn’t imagine failure when she arrived in the Big Apple to start work. Her maiden name was Hoss, and she introduced herself to everyone she met: “I’m Kristi Hoss, and I’m going to be famous in about a week.”

After a few months, she was back in Houston, working at radio station KL0L, 101 FM, where she dished out entertainment news and relationship advice starting at 5 a.m.

On the air she was known as “Lucy Lipps”  Her voice was her calling card of her funny, put you at ease, on-air persona. Schiller always had an interest in technology and social media, her reputation grew.

Forbes magazine named her “Queen of the Internet” in 1998.

“I loved it,” Schiller says. “And then I realized things were getting out of control. People knew me, and I didn’t know them.” You get somewhat paranoid when people approach you and you see the look in their eyes like they feel they have a connection because they listen to you every day.

“I moved to New Orleans.” She wanted to adventure to an unfamiliar territory, Schiller briefly worked as a stockbroker. “But that didn’t last,” she says.

In the matchmaking department, Schiller was surprisingly effective – she fixed up nine couples who actually got married. But she herself was single, rich in friends but poor in boyfriends. Then, when she was 29, a friend tried to fix her up. “Oh, honey,” she told him, “this isn’t going to work. I’m the matchmaker. I fix up other people”

Finally, however, Schiller agreed to meet the Oil and Gas wildcatter who would be her future husband. It was July 2001, a hurricane was brewing in the Gulf, and the French Quarter was a monsoon.

“John was completely wigged out at the rising water,” Schiller says. “I told him, ‘Don’t worry. I’ve lived through 150 hurricanes. We will be fine.”

The date only lasted an hour, but both were smitten. They met again the next week, and they’ve been together ever since.

Sinclair, their daughter, was born in 2006. She was 6 in 2012.the year of the Sandy Hook, Conn., school shooting That’s when Schiller decided to start K9s4KIDs, which she is hoping to expand along with K9s4COPs.

She is not opposed to guns – she’s a member of the National Rifle Association and has a license to carry. But, she says, she is a proponent of stricter gun laws. As well as, one protection dog is a better investment than a school full of armed teachers.

“Teachers are underpaid heroes,” Schiller says, “but they’re not in the business of reading, writing and Remingtons. When they were hired, nobody asked them, ‘How’s your aim?’ ”

EXPANDING HER CHARITY

Today hundreds of volunteers are involved in Schiller’s organization.

One is Bill Stanton, who describes himself as a private eye and former NYPD cop from the Bronx.

“Kristi reminds me of a modern-day Lucille Ball – she creates a tornado wherever she goes. But it’s a tornado for good, and her energy and enthusiasm are infectious. She has this Southern comforting, down-home-iness that people just love.”

Sgt. Mike Thomas, in charge of the canine unit for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, appreciates Schiller’s can-do attitude.

“She may have a ditzy, blond persona in public, but she’s extremely intelligent, and she’s learned the dog business,” Thomas says. “People respect that.”

Early on, the sergeant says, Schiller gave his department five dogs. They were trainable but the equivalent of C students, he says. Later, Thomas took Schiller to a vendor in the mid-west and showed her where he prefers to buy police dogs. In the middle of the kennel tour, she grabbed him.

“I’m sorry, so sorry,” Schiller told him. “I just realized I went to the Dollar Store to buy the officers dogs, when I should be sending them to the Neiman Marcus of training.  These are the dogs that you need.”

To Thomas and the dozens of other lawmen and -women whom Schiller has helped, she’s a living, breathing superhero.

“Of course I’m not,” Schiller says. “The heroes are the men and ladies that are in uniform.”

HOW TO HELP

K9s4COPs welcomes donations to help purchase and train dogs, provide instructions and certifications for canine handlers, and pay for dog food and veterinary care. For more information, call 936-825-9900 or go to K9s4COPs.org.

Source: http://m.chron.com/about/houston-gives/article/Kristi-Schiller-helps-cash-strapped-law-5335274.php?cmpid=htx

Basking in the glow of the Rose Parade

Flu medications, or maybe an adrenalin fueled lack of sleep, make you have the weirdest dreams. In color. With surround sound. And the smell … simply divine!

I had the most vivid dream that K9s4COPS was in the Tournament of Roses Parade!

But it wasn’t a just a dream…it was dream that came true. K9s4COPs was honored as one of the only 42 floats in the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade.

Most. Amazing. Day. EVER!!!!!

The experience was surreal and I didn’t want it to end! My beloved friend Jenna Jackson’s P&R Productions crew captured every moment from the building of the float to our stroll down Colorado Avenue in Pasadena, California.

We participated in the Rose Parade to draw attention to the great work that our K9 officers and their handlers do serving our communities and to share our mission to provide agencies and schools with highly trained K9s. We wanted to share our story, our mission, with the world. I’m pleased to say the response was overwhelming!

Our message was heard from coast to coast, from the front page of our hometown Houston Chronicle to international media outlets. It was a headline ticker on Yahoo News and featured across the pond to the BBC in England! Our message has reached over a Billion people!  This has quickly secured our position as the Rose Bowl Parade’s “Fan Favorite”

On ABC, Hanna Storm and Josh Elliot knocked it out of the park with their coverage of our float. (Plus, they said our float was their favorite of the entire parade.) They shared our story, from that horrible December when Officer Ted Dahlin lost his partner K9 Blek to the ever growing number of K9s which have been placed with various law enforcement agencies and educational campuses.

Through such incredible world-wide visibility, K9s4COPs gained almost 40,000 new followers immediately following the Rose Parade and added many new members to our Woof Pack, so all in all it was a great success! You too can join the Woof Pack at www.K9s4COPs.org/donate.

I’m not about to let this much visibility for K9s4COPs go to waste and we’re already planning next year’s float. We are beyond thankful for the generous donations that made this year’s float possible and we’re already looking for that special sponsor that wants to join us in front of more than a billion viewers on New Year’s Day.

This is my dream coming true…every day. With the generous support of countless businesses and individuals and the tireless work of our dedicated team, K9s4COPs has come a long way in just three years, but our mission is far from over.

I tell people I’m too stupid to know what’s impossible. I have ridiculously large dreams, and half the time they come true.

By the way, if anyone finds a glass slipper along Colorado Boulevard, please return it to Texas!!!

K9s4COPs in the Rose Parade, KTLA

32-K9s4COPS-2014

K9s4COPs dedicates its inaugural Rose Parade float to the heroic law enforcement K9 Units across America and to the men and women who serve and protect our community. K9s4COPs, a non-profit foundation, is dedicated to gifting highly trained K9s trained and ready for action. The intent of our float is to honor our four legged guardians who risk their lives everyday and in most states are considered full-fledged police officers. Sitting atop a bed of roses is our larger than life K9 that resembles our mascot a King Shepherd, Johnny Cash. Floral ribbons run the length of the float with clusters of white stars and floral fireworks forming a backdrop to frame the float. Our founder Kristi Schiller and her family will be joined by selected officers and deputies with their K9s by their side. These officers will be selected from the over 50 K9s that have been gifted to 23 agencies in 9 states in our 2 ½ years as a non-profit.

Construction Height:     22 feet
Construction Width:     18 feet
Construction Length:     55 feet

The stately German shepherd is artistically decorated in a variety of seeds and grasses to create the realistic fur. These include dark brown nyjer seed and beige sesame seeds with accents of black pharmitas and golden pampas grass. Its protective vest is covered in onion seed. Ribbons of gold strawflower petals flow the length of the float with platforms created in cream colored ironed cornhusk and white coconut chips. Crisp white stars created in sweet rice and dendrobium orchid florets float over the lush red carpet gardens comprised of over 50,000 brilliant red Opium roses and red gerbera. Floral displays of intense orange, red and purple feature red ginger, Lobster Claw, Rostrata, Caribea and Parakeet heliconia, bird of paradise, leucadendron, liatris, roses and specialty anthuriums, Completing this spectacular entry are floral explosions created in thousands of yellow Oncidium orchids, roses and bird of paradise at the rear of the float.

Source: http://ktla.com/2013/12/11/k9s-4cops/#ixzz2oyjkMAGF

Gone to the Dogs

A 140-pound King Shepherd isn’t the normal accessory for a glamorous, jet-setting philanthropist, but where Kristi Schiller goes so does Johnny Cash, a long-hair Lothario with an eye for protecting his human pack and an appetite for chicken fried steaks and the occasional landscape rock.

“He has logged more private plane hours than most pilots and blows me away with his superhuman abilities,” laughs Schiller.

In addition to Johnny Cash, Schiller is almost always accompanied by two tri-colored Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the most recent addition, A Belgian Malinois “bomb dog” named Daisy. From her River Oaks home in Houston to the ranch in Millican, Texas, just south of College Station and her husband’s alma mater Texas A&M University, her rowdy, but well-mannered K-9 entourage is just one of the many things that set Schiller apart from the stereotypical socialite.

Schiller is a social entrepreneur with a fashionable flare and cowgirl grit.

A true Texas woman, Schiller grew up “where the pavement ends and the Gulf of Mexico begins” in Freeport, Texas, just southwest of Houston. Her parents taught her early on that self-worth comes from within.

“I grew up on a shipyard along the Texas Gulf Coast, where there were oyster shells in everyone’s driveways” she relates. “I was raised to be resourceful and make your

own path, not sit on the side of the street as the parade drove by. I started serving on my first board of the local orphanage at a mere 18 and from this I launched a toy drive for birthdays and holidays for these children, who were not yet placed in foster homes. My parents never explained to us someone had less than but rather how much more you can help the next person, whether it be with knowledge, sweat equity or through monetary involvement. I was raised to

see a broader side of charity than most. Realistically, we exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give. I was instilled at a very early age by my parents, ‘If you have…then you DO.’”

Armed with a degree in broadcast journalism, Schiller spent ten years in broadcasting from early stints on national radio to E! Entertainment Television and Hard Copy. She later found a new voice as internet entrepreneur, earning the title of “Queen of the Internet” from Forbes Magazine in 1997.

In 2001, Schiller met John,  Chairman and CEO of the largest independent oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico…

To read the rest of this article, click here to download the PDF of K-9 COP Magazine