Pets for Vets
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|Purpose||"The Pets for Vets program is dedicated to providing a second chance for shelter pets by rescuing, training and pairing them with America’s veterans who could benefit from a companion animal."|
Pets for Vets is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States dedicated to providing a second chance to shelter dogs by rescuing, training, and matching them with American veterans who need a companion pet.
Pets for Vets was founded on October 21, 2009, by animal behaviorist and trainer, Clarissa Black, who was looking for a way to help American veterans who were suffering from combat stress and other emotional issues related to their service. Many Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans suffer physical and emotional injuries making it difficult to transition back to civilian life. Pets for Vets helps military veterans reclaim normalcy in their lives through companion dogs.
Each companion dog is rescued in connection with local animal rescue groups. They are then given basic obedience training and any additional training that will help them assimilate into their new lives and then finally placed in their "forever" home.
Estimates that anywhere from one in eight to one in five of all Iraq war veterans have some degree of PTSD and two thirds of those who screened positive for PTSD are not receiving treatment. People who suffer from PTSD experience anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, flashbacks, and extreme wariness. It may manifest right away or show up months or even years later. Some of those who suffer from PTSD commit suicide.
According to the ASPCA, every year between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats are abandoned at shelters in the United States. Nationally five out of ten shelter dogs and seven out of ten shelter cats are euthanized because there is no one to adopt them from the shelter These dogs and cats can make excellent companion animals but never have that chance.
Companion animals as therapy
Animal-assisted therapy has typically been used to treat physical disabilities; it is becoming increasingly useful in treating patients with psychological complications including PTSD and combat stress and even reducing symptoms of PTSD in as many as 82% of patients studied.
More and more veterans are being written prescriptions for companion animals to help combat PTSD. Pets can help alleviate stress, loneliness and anxiety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness. Pets can increase your opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities and opportunities for socialization. Caring for a pet encourages responsibility and adherence to a daily schedule.
Pets for Vets developed a program focusing on addressing these issues by bringing together animals needing to be rescued and veterans needing a companion for a better quality of life. Not every veteran qualifies for a psychiatric service dog, however everyone who wants one can benefit from a companion or pet animal.
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