You may recognize Andrew “Roo” Yori as one of the super-human competitive athletes from Season 8 of American Ninja Warrior, where he made it all the way to the National Finals in Vegas!
He became known as the “K9 Ninja,” using his television presence to raise public awareness of the plight of homeless dogs.
As he prepares to compete once again in ANW Season 9, Yori continues to promote his message of canine rescue and adoption.
It all began in 2002 when Roo and his wife, Clara decided to adopt their first dog together. They found themselves overwhelmed by the number of pups crowding their local shelter and simply could not agree on which pooch to choose. Clara fell in love with one, Roo had his heart set on another. And so, in the spirit of compromise, they adopted them both!
From that point on, the couple began to devote themselves to canine rescue and advocacy. They volunteered at shelters and educated themselves on the stereotypes, health, and behavioral issues that affect shelter dogs. They even opened their own home to anywhere from four to six rescue and foster pups at a time.
Two dogs in particular shaped their future and inspired a lifelong legacy. Both happened to be Pit Bull-type dogs, but according to Roo, that is just a coincidence. He and Clara adore all dogs, but recognize that Bully breeds are frequently targeted for abuse and discrimination, and face a higher risk of death in shelters.
“A good dog is a good dog,” Roo told iHeartDogs. “We need to judge dogs as individuals, not for where they come from and what they look like.”
Wallace, a handsome Pibble with a bit of blue accenting one mischievous eye, was marked for euthanasia when Roo and Clara decided to take a chance on him. Trapped in a cage most of the day, the young, energetic dog was acting out. With the love, patience and plenty of physical activity provided by his foster paw-rents, Wallace flourished and soon became a champion Disc Dog!
Hector came into the Yoris’ lives in 2007. He was one of 51 dogs seized from Michael Vick’s notoriously despicable fighting ring. He had a big, blocky head, deep, soulful brown eyes and bore an abstract pattern of scars on his broad chest. But Hector was anything but broken.
With Roo and Clara in his corner, he passed the Canine Good Citizen Test and went on to become a Certified Therapy Dog. He visited nursing homes, hospitals, and schools where he taught children about dog safety. Hector passed away surrounded by his loving family in 2014.
In honor of their legacy, the Yoris created the Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation and the Hector Fund to help improve the lives of homeless dogs and the people who fight for them. They have channeled the generous donations received by the charity into projects like building play yards for shelter dogs in New Mexico, and fostering abused dogs through Safe Humane Chicago’s Court Case Dog program.
Roo’s ultimate goal is to one day purchase a large property where he and Clara can adopt and foster as many homeless dogs as possible. For now, he will continue to use his platform as the K9 Ninja to spread his message of kindness, compassion, rescue and adoption.
Two of the family’s four dogs will join Roo for Season 9 of ANW. Johnny, a two-year-old Pibble rescued from a Chicago fighting ring with nine other dogs, and Angus, the family’s beloved 15-year-old Lab Mix who also appeared in Season 8.
Be sure to follow Roo on Facebook for tons of updates, pics and videos of his road to the 2017 ANW Winner’s Circle!
American Ninja Warrior Season 9 premieres on Monday June 12 at 8/7c on NBC. I know who I will be rooting for!
All Images c/o Roo & Clara Yori