Written by Jessica Harrell
Fourteen is an awkward age for many. You don’t know what you want to do in life, where exactly you fit in, or who you really are. However, this is not the case for fourteen-year-old Isabella Rybak, founder of her own organization, K9 Warriors.
In July of 2015, Isabella and her family took a twelve-hour car ride to Bethesda, Maryland. Due to the boredom of a long car ride, she decided to read an online article about Military Working Dogs. This article immediately piqued her interest, so she purchased the book Navy SEAL Dogs by Mike Ritland the first moment that she could upon arrival, which subsequently served as her inspiration for all that followed.
When her family arrived home from Maryland, Isabella began searching for ways to send care packages to deployed teams overseas. Once she found a contact and had an address, she began posting about her project on social media. By the time she had assembled eleven packages, she had raised $655 in donations, which she then used for shipping and items that she still needed.
On February 16, 2016, Isabella received an email and a subsequent call from the Warrior Dog Foundation, an organization she is currently an ambassador for, informing her that one of the K-9 handlers that received her packages called the Mayor of Charleston who wanted to recognize and honor her with a proclamation on April 12th, 2016 at a City Council Meeting.
At this meeting, Mayor Tecklenburg read the proclamation, part of which instilling that April 12th be Isabella Rybak Day in Charleston, South Carolina (mark your calendars everyone!). Additionally, Isabella was surprised by Mike Ritland, the author of the book that initially inspired her. When the mayor finished reading, Isabella spoke on behalf of her efforts.
Since then, Isabella has gotten even more involved, including starting her own organization, K9 Warriors, which allows her to meet new law enforcement K-9 units send more packages to teams overseas. These efforts precisely follow K9 Warrors’ mission statement, which states “Our mission is to send deployed military working dog teams and law enforcement K-9 units care packages filled with items they want and need.” This past December alone, Isabella sent out more than 50 boxes (which each take about an hour to assemble and address), including everything from first aid kits, treats, chew bones, first aid for the handlers, and all of the snacks that they would want. In these special Christmas packages, she even included “a lot of pieces of home” for these soldiers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Turkey.
This is just the beginning for Isabella Rybak’s career with K9 Warriors. She states, “I've always loved dogs, and I've always wanted to do something with animals whether it was be a vet or anything, but I've finally decided I want to become a K9 handler.” Lucky for us and all of the dogs out there, Isabella isn’t quitting her passions anytime soon!
If you would like to help Isabella and her organization, you can contact them three ways: on Facebook at K9 Warriors, Instagram at K9 Warriors, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.