Check Out This Great ‘Pets For Vets’ Tradition

by Nicole Gibbs

Veterans were honored earlier this November when adoption fees were waived at numerous animal shelters around the country. In addition to free breakfasts and parades on Veterans Day, those who have served were thanked with the gift of wagging tails and barking pups. 

The Helen Woodward Center in San Diego partnered with Animals for Armed Forces to offer no cost adoptions to those who have served. The shelter told People magazine that during a similar event over Memorial Day, 108 animals found their forever homes. 

Programs such as Vets Adopt Pets, Pets for Patriots, Pets for Vets, and many others, teamed up with animal shelters to help military men, women and families find companions. In Michigan, Kathy Bilitzke of the Humane Society told CBS reporters “The program brings together heroes who seek companionship, and pets who need a hero.” 

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According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as many as 30% of vets who have seen combat suffer will suffer from PTSD in a given year. The ASPCA states that approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters every year. 

The emotional support that rescue animals offer to our men and women who have served is incredible. At the same time, the vets continue to do a service to our country by helping to care for some of our most vulnerable members—our precious animals. 

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The Department of Veterans Affairs also states that pets can be beneficial for veterans who are recovering from PTSD (or most any kind of mental, physical or emotional problems). Animals can help lift your mood and reduce stress. 

Tracy Stecker writes in Psychology Today that dogs can help recovering veterans to feel more secure and form bonds. Dogs love unconditionally and training them helps soldiers to relearn communication skills. All of these things help to reduce problems like depression, anxiety, and loneliness. 

But soldiers aren’t the only ones who benefit. A loving home for a shelter animal can change their entire world. Their unconditional love and support is an equal exchange for saving their lives. 

Many animal shelters offer different programs year round for military families and veterans. Appreciation and gratitude is expressed for our service members in a variety of ways, from adoption fees to training classes. And while special days, like Veterans Day, can be a great way for shelters to connect, most will always have special support for those who have served.

Have more heartwarming stories about veterans and pets? Tell us in the comments!

WATCH on Z Living:
 Finding Fido, where photographer and animal behaviorist Seth Casteel hosts plays matchmaker each week between a person and a pooch. Finding Fido will premiere on Z Living in January 2017.

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