Atlanta United partners with America’s VetDogs to raise second future service dog 

Second-ever MLS club service dog will be trained and placed with disabled U.S. veteran

ATLANTA (Aug 30, 2021) – Atlanta United today announced the club has once again partnered with America’s VetDogs, a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to U.S. veterans, active-duty service members and first responders with disabilities. Through this partnership, Atlanta United will be co-raising a male, 12-week-old Black Labrador retriever, who will be trained in the Atlanta area for the next 16-18 months with the purpose of becoming a service dog. Atlanta United will host the puppy at community events and select home King in his new United soccer to assist in raising and socializing him to be a confident and calm future service dog.

After holding a vote through the club’s website, the puppy’s name was chosen by supporters to be King.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with America’s VetDogs and reach our goal of improving the life of a veteran through this excellent program,” Atlanta United President Darren Eales said. “Supporting our military is a foundational part of the club and the Blank Family of Businesses and successfully placing King with a veteran or first responder would be a privilege.  We look forward to introducing King to our fans, giving them the opportunity to engage with him and educating the public about service dogs and the ways we can all support the veteran community.”

To learn more about the partnership and King’s journey, visit You can also follow him at @ATLUTDPup on Instagram and Twitter.

“America’s VetDogs is thrilled to partner with Atlanta United for a second time on co-raising the team and leagues’ second future service dog,” said John Miller, president & CEO of America’s VetDogs. “Atlanta United’s passion for supporting our nation’s heroes aligns with our mission to provide trained service dogs for veterans and first responders with disabilities. This opportunity offers a unique environment for the pup to grow and thrive in. A well-socialized puppy will have fewer adjustments to make when he returns back to VetDogs for advanced service dog training. When it’s time, that confidence will help someone with disabilities conquer any challenges they may face together as a team.”

It costs over $50,000 to raise, train, and place one assistance dog; however, all of VetDogs’ services are provided at no charge to the individual.  Funding comes from the generosity of individuals, businesses, and community organizations.

For more on America’s VetDogs and ways to get involved, visit

Atlanta United joined Major League Soccer in 2017 and won the 2018 MLS Cup in just its second season, the earliest an expansion team has won the title since 1998.  The club has set multiple league records including season tickets sales (36,000-plus), single-game attendance (72,548), single-season average (53,002) and total home attendance (901,033). Owned by Arthur M. Blank, and led by club President Darren Eales, Atlanta United plays its home matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. For more information about Atlanta United, including how to purchase season tickets, visit:, and follow @ATLUTD.

Since 2003, America's VetDogs ( has trained and placed guide and service dogs to provide independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship to veterans with disabilities from all eras. In 2015, VetDogs opened its programs to first responders, including fire, police, and emergency medical personnel. America's VetDogs is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded by the Guide Dog Foundation and serves clients from across the United States. VetDogs relies on contributions from generous individuals, corporations, service clubs, and foundations to fund its mission to help those who have served our country live with dignity and independence. It costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog, but America's VetDogs provides its services completely free of charge to the individual. America's VetDogs has been accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. 

King in vest with soccer ball on the pitch/field..Hey Y'all, I'm King the new Puppy with a Purpose being raised with the help of the Atlanta United. 

I'm very excited to be the new prospect for the Atlanta United for this upcoming season. The staff, trainers, and team welcomed me with open arms, but how could they not with a name like King! I can't wait to meet all of you when I'm overseeing practices, attending special events, or cheering the team on at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Check you out later!

Player Profile

Name: King
Position: Service dog in training
Birthdate: June 5, 2021 
Birthplace: Smithtown, New York
Nationality: USA
Breed: Black Labrador Retriever
Transaction: Atlanta United signs King Sept 1, 2021

You can also follow him at @ATLUTDPup on Instagram and Twitter.

Michelle with puppy King.Meet Michelle Samuels

Michelle Samuels spent her younger years in Orange County, California but moved to Atlanta and attended high school in Cobb County.  She attended Purdue University earning a degree in Accounting then returned to California to start her career. In 1993, Michelle moved back to Atlanta to be closer to family and has lived in Alpharetta ever since.  She now works in IT and has 2 grown children, Katie and Brian.

Michelle’s daughter, Katie, raised her first Guide Dog with the Guide Dog Foundation as a student at University of Georgia.  Having been around the program and watching her daughter raise a future guide dog, Michelle became hooked and decided to raise her own guide dog.  Her first pup was a yellow Labrador named Chai, who ultimately became a breeder for the Foundation.  Michelle then raised Matcha from Chai’s first litter and most recently, raised ATLUTD Pup Spike’s sister Nancy, also from Chai’s third litter.  Michelle has continued to expand her volunteer activities with the Guide Dog Foundation and currently serves as the Area Coordinator for the north metro Atlanta area.

As the ex-wife of a former LAPD Police Office and the daughter and sister of Marine Corps veterans, Michelle has seen firsthand the sacrifices that veterans and first responders make for our communities and country.  She is very excited to have the opportunity to help one of these brave souls through her love of puppies and America’s Vet Dogs.  

Get your King here!

Photo of a black and yellow plush Lab toy with an AVD vest.