|NYPD first responder Richie Carter with Shea, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Met. Courtesy of New York Mets.|
In an on-field ceremony before the Mets' game with the Miami Marlins on September 28, America'sVetDogs officially paired the Amazin' Mets Founation's first service dog, Shea, with NYPD first reponder Richie Carter.
America's VetDogs is a New York-based national nonprofit that provides specially trained service dogs to veterans and first responders with disabilities. For 20 years, it has served veterans with disabilities from all eras, and in 2015, it opened its program to first responders, including fire, police, and emergency medical personnel. It is a nonprofit orgranization founded by the Guide Dog Foundation and serves clients across the United States. It costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog, but America's Vet Dogs provides its services completely free of charge to the recipient. For more information, please check out www.VetDogs.org.
The Mets were the first-ever MLB team to raise a future service dog with Shea.
Richie Carter dedicated 20 years of his life to the New York City Police Department, where he spent over 250 hours at Ground Zero after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Carter is a lifelong Mets fan, whose passion for baseball continued to grow throughout his life as he helped lead the NYPD softball team to multiple championships as the captain behind the plate.
"Being placed with Shea at Citi Field was one of the greatest moments of my life with so many emotions and doesn't compare to anything I have ever been a part of," Carter said. "I truly want to thank the New York Mets for helping raise Shea and welcoming me and my family with open arms into the Mets' organization. Shea is going to change my life."
Alex Cohen, the President of the Amazin' Mets Foundation and New York Mets Owner, said, "We are proud that the Amazin' Mets Foundation's first service dog, Shea, has been placed with former NYPD officer and 9.11 first responder Richie Carter. Service dogs can provide companionship, hope, joy, and a life-changing experience. It's our honor to partner with America's VetDogs and support our veterans and first responders."
John Miller, the President and CEO of America's Vet Dogs, said, "America's Vet Dogs takes pride in pairing Shea with former NYPD officer Richie. The Amazin' Mets Foundation and the New York Mets played a fundamental role in providing invaluable support for Shea's upbringing and training. The unwavering dedication of everyone in the Mets' front office, the Amazin' Mets Foundation, and Alex Cohen helped to make this possible."
The Amazin' Mets Foundation recently sponsored their second service dog, Seaver, who will also be parted with a U.S. veteran or first responder with disabilities, as Shea has been. Seaver is currently undergoing basic training and socialization with the Amazin' Mets Foundation staff and New York Mets players and fans before returning to America's Vet Dogs campus in Smithtown, N.Y. for formal training.