Pets for Vets
Oct 30, 2016 06:45PM
● By Elena Hutslar
A recent Pets for Vets connection, Eddie (the veteran) and Calvin (his new dog).
ARF’s Pets for Vets program focuses on the therapeutic benefits of bonding with animals to assist in the emotional healing of combat veterans and their families. Through a partnership with the VA (Veterans Administration), ARF is reaching out to veterans whose emotional health would benefit therapeutically from animal companionship. The veteran is matched with a shelter pet and provided with specialized training classes, pet food, and ongoing counseling and support services. ARF also offers free adoptions to all military families, placing 147 animals this year, including 20 for Pets for Vets.
After defending our country and freedom, veterans returning from combat often find it challenging to transition back to civilian life. They need stability and companionship as they make the difficult adjustment after deployment. Many return home with emotional trauma, anxiety, or depression, in addition to physical scars or pain. The VA estimates that a veteran commits suicide every 65 seconds, amounting to thousands of lives lost each year. Meanwhile, in public animal shelters nationwide, an estimated three to four million healthy, loving dogs and cats are euthanized yearly simply because of a lack of homes.
ARF is committed to supporting veterans while providing a second chance for shelter pets. Studies show interaction with companion animals lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and improves mental and physical health. The quiet love of a pet helps veterans cope with loneliness and isolation and provides them with stability, companionship, and a reason to get out of the house.
In May 2016, ARF launched a Mobile Veterinary Clinic, providing free wellness care and vaccines for pets of veterans of all eras, including several Pets for Vets clients. In the first four months, more than 160 free exams have been conducted onsite at the VA.
The matches made in ARF’s Pets for Vets program save two lives - a shelter pet heals and finds a loving home, and a veteran in need is provided an antidote to isolation, a gateway to trust, and physical and emotional healing through the unconditional love of their new best friend. Find out how you can help at www.arflife.org.