Dogs Dominate Security Management Grad's Career
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Jason Johnson’s career has gone to the dogs -- and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Johnson, who has earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Security Management from Bellevue University, is the founder of Project K9 Hero, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that helps raise donations to offset the medical, food, and death benefits for retired Police K-9 heroes.
“After spending my 24-year career in the military, police, and federal law enforcement field, I had the honor of working with nearly 2,000 K-9s and military working dogs at all levels,” Johnson said. “Once they retire from service, the majority of the agencies they worked for do not have programs in place to assist them in retirement. We are growing at a rapid rate with over 8,000 individual donors and 25 K-9 Heroes we are taking care of, and we have an additional 30 applicants (dogs) in waiting.”
Johnson became involved with dogs early in his military career in the United States Army.
“When I first enlisted I had no idea you could become a K-9 handler or that it was a profession I could seek out,” he said. “After my five-year enlistment, I left the military to become a civilian police officer. I first started out as a volunteer decoy for our patrol K-9s, then advanced to becoming a handler, then trainer, and eventually an international instructor. Today, I have taught classes to hundreds of students all around the world, and I refer to it without reservation as ‘the most honorable profession in the world’.”
During his military and civilian police career, Johnson accumulated credits from a multitude of schools, but he was looking for a place to bring all those credits together toward a bachelor’s degree.
“I was looking for a school that would take my professional experience, my existing degrees, and allow me to finish my bachelor’s. I was able to use my G.I. Bill toward a degree that I felt would complement my career. Bellevue University checked all of those boxes,” Johnson said. “The accelerated online program in Security Management was exactly what I was looking for.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree, Johnson found that a small scholarship combined with the remaining funds in his G.I Bill would cover a master’s degree as well, so he decided to pursue that as well.
“I really enjoyed that the other students in my cohort were working professionals” Johnson said. “Halfway through my master's program, I left my police department to take a position in Iraq as an Explosive Detection K-9 Handler for the U.S. Ambassador. Bellevue University worked with me during this transition when I had to take a few months off, and my instructor worked with me to finish my degree from Iraq when I had limited resources and internet access.”
Johnson left government service in January 2017, sold his home and most of his belongings to travel nationwide to promote Project K-9 Hero and his book K9 Flash Becomes A Hero.
“This allows me to be flexible enough to capitalize on opportunities with my K-9 Solutions International corporation and my non-profit organization without being tied down to one specific location,” he said.