The Switzers’ Mission: to Aid and Assist Our Canine Companions
Former University of Oklahoma head football coach Barry Switzer and his wife, Becky, like many people, love dogs. Like countless others in this country and around the world, they consider their four-legged, furry housemates family.
Currently, five canines share the Switzer household: Panzer, Sieger and Jazz, all 5; Bella, 3; and Saber, 2.
But the Norman couple’s passion for the animal coined “man’s best friend” doesn’t stop at their front door. Barry and Becky Switzer have made it their mission to aid and assist dogs in dire straits.
One of their recent efforts involved a U.S. military combat dog named Layka, who was shot point blank four times while serving in Afghanistan; during surgery, a leg had to be amputated. The dog’s handler, whose life was saved by the canine’s actions, successfully fought to adopt her. (See the National Geographic story at youtube.com/watch?v=d1NkQhzZXDE.)
Last summer, when Layka suffered the break of another leg, the Switzers—deeply moved by the story of the dog’s heroism—stepped forward to help. “We took her to the University of Tennessee, where she was operated on, fitted for a prosthetic and rehabilitated for over eight weeks,” Becky said. “She is back with her owner now and doing great. She is up for the National Hero award this year.”
The Switzers also have established numerous GOFUND accounts to assist dogs with life-threatening issues and provided needed funds to animal shelters that have been damaged from storms, fire or other disaster.
In 2013, Barry rescued a Rottweiler puppy that had been left in a van on a hot day. After having the puppy checked out with a vet and given a spa treatment, he oversaw her adoption: to a couple who had lost their home in the Moore tornado.
“In short, if a dog needs help, we try to assist when possible,” Becky stated.
Now the couple has begun the process of establishing a high-tech facility in central Oklahoma where dogs will be trained to perform search and rescue work, and where their handlers also can receive training as well as certification. So far toward that end, the Switzers have established a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization, the Ground Zero Emergency Training Center. Land and architectural plans are being prepared and will be announced late this month.
For their efforts to help dogs when the need is great, the Switzers ask for nothing in return—except, perhaps, for the wag of a tail.