Few environments are as gruesome or as stressful as those seen on the front lines of a war zone. These traumatic and life-altering experiences leave many participants permanently scared, physically and/or emotionally. It is quite difficult for individuals who have experienced such treacherous conditions to resume life without help.
Within our country’s borders, many homeless animals find themselves on the front lines of the never-ending war on pet overpopulation. Often times, “less desirable” pets spend months watching other animals find forever homes because they may be younger, smaller, healthier, or simply a different color. These last-chance pets cannot resume their lives without help from others.
Pets for Patriots, an amazing not-for-profit organization, was created in 2010 to help connect veterans with last chance pets. “An overlooked form of therapy for any veteran is the loyalty and love of a companion animal,” said Beth Zimmerman, Pets for Patriots founder and executive director.
Zimmerman’s utmost respect for the brave individuals who serve our country, in addition with the desire to help homeless pets became the catalyst for the organization's mission “…to consistently give the gifts of fidelity, joy and companionship to both pet and person through honorable companion pet adoption.”
I first learned of Pets for Patriots after speaking to Jim Nash, an Army veteran and AAHA member who serves as a Pets for Patriots director. Jim spoke highly of their mission. Jim’s words really hit home when I noticed that my cousin, an active member of the military, recommended them on Facebook. It didn’t take much convincing to persuade AAHA leaders to make a donation and offer our support.
To help make companion pet adoptions achievable and affordable for military personnel, Pets for Patriots partners with veterinarians in the communities they serve. These hospitals agree to give a modest ongoing discount for Pets for Patriots participants. Approximately half of all Pets for Patriots veterinary partners are AAHA-accredited practices.
Since their humble beginning, Pets for Patriots have placed more 130 pets with deserving veterans from all branches of the military. In order to be eligible for adoption, the pet has to be one of the following:
- Dog or cat, two years or older
- Large dog (40+ pounds), regardless of age
- Special needs dog or cat, e.g., birth defect, disability, chronic medical condition, etc.
The impact that these “honorable adoptions” have had on veterans, volunteers and pets involved has been huge.
Recently, a veteran that suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), wrote that a once-abused, one-eyed pit-bull saved his life by being a friend and inspiration. An active member of the Navy talked about how a rescued dog provides companionship for his family while he is deployed.
These stories and more provide inspiration and hope for last-chance pets and military veterans. However, the charity is in need of financial support and technically-savvy volunteers with time to help support their mission. If you are interested in helping out or to learn more, please visit petsforpatriots.org.
Photographs courtesy of Pets for Patriots, Inc. All rights reserved.