Perfectly Paired: Shelter Dogs for Veterans
Both our veterans and shelter animals have been through traumatic events, but together they can help each other heal.
Many of our brave soldiers have returned home with physical and emotional injuries that have made it difficult to transition back to normal civilian life. Some estimates state that as many as 20% of returning military veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Medical studies have shown that companion animals significantly improve mental and physical health, reducing stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms experienced by many serving in the military. According to the ASPCA, 6-8 million dogs and cats are abandoned at shelters in the U.S., and more than half of these animals are euthanized because there is no one to adopt them.
Help heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by pairing each one with a shelter dog specifically matched to his or her personality. Professional animal trainers rehabilitate the dogs, which are otherwise facing euthanasia, and teach them good manners to fit into the veteran's lifestyle. Training can also include sensitization to wheel chairs or crutches, as well as recognizing panic or anxiety disorder behaviors.
You can help. $15.00 provides chew toys and training treats. $30.00 covers kibble for one month. $100.00 covers one adoption fee.
Reports from the Field: Adam and Rakkasan
The team over at Pets for Vets goes to great lengths, carefully selecting, training and pairing rescued animals with veterans according to their individual needs. And the impact is huge:
Conventional treatment was not helping Sergeant Renteria deal with his symptoms of PTSD and TBI after his deployment to Iraq as an infantry soldier. He knew he needed something more than medication and intermittent therapy sessions. PTSD left Adam feeling isolated, being out in public would cause him to have severe panic attacks, rooftops and windows still seemed like places for snipers to hide, walking around corners caused severe anxiety, debilitating nightmares made sleep impossible and noises reminded him of the war zone he had just left.
Adam needed someone he could rely on, someone who could make him feel protected in public and allow him to not isolate himself by staying inside any more. Pets for Vets found Rakassan, a Jindo mix at a local shelter, with a sharp intelligence. He excelled at his training, learning new behaviors to help with PTSD very quickly, but took more time to get used to an outside environment. When they met for the first time, Rakassan climbed up on the couch next to Adam and nestled in next to him.
Since then they have become inseparable, Rakassan is in-tune to Adam’s every move: sleeping with him at night which eases his nightmares, being vigilant to their surroundings so Adam does not have to be, and even helping Adam feel comfortable in public. Adam now enjoys going on outings, including to his son’s baseball games. Adam has said, “Clarissa is my angel, she found the most perfect dog for me. I would not have been able to pick out a dog that was better suited to me. Rakassan and Pets for Vets saved my life.”
Pets for Vets provides a second chance for both our returning veterans and needy shelter dogs. These animals can make excellent companions but might not have that chance and our brave soldiers receive a second chance at health and happiness. The bonds of friendship formed between man and animal have the power to ease the suffering of our troops when they return from overseas.
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