Monday, February 15, 2010


Been a little busy in the AFGHN so here is something we hope you'll really like....

Dogs for Vets: a great idea....

February 15, 2010 by Robert L. Hanafin · 1 Comment

There has been an increase of media coverage dealing with the growing number of non-profit organizations providing much needed companion pets for our returning troops requiring such companionship, and Pets for Vets is one of these great ideas.

This story is in two parts. The first part will cover what groups like Pets for Vets have to offer. The second part will cover the reasons why Veterans need to be screened and prepared to accept such animals just as much as the dog needs to be appropriate for the Veteran.

For example, Veterans coping with PTSD or exhibiting signs of domestic abuse must have our own demons under control before even thinking about such companionship. In most cases non-profit groups like Pets for Vets screen potential Veteran applicants to ensure a stable environment for the Pet and Vet.

I know from personal experience that most shelter pets sent out for adoption have been rescued from an abusive situation as puppies, so potential owners are screened within reason to prevent further abuse.

Simply put we do not take a dog that has had a traumatic experience of their own (PTSD if I may) and place them with someone with PTSD unless that person is undergoing treatment and has the condition pretty much under control that is the Veteran is stabilized. The addition of such a companion may serve as a compliment to any other therapy the Veteran receives.

I have ’stabilized’ type 2 bipolar meaning not only is it under control enough for me to live a normal [for me] life, but I never have required hospitalization for Mental Illness (MI). Shiba pictured here is my companion dog that I trained myself and love very much. She had been abused and battered before I got her to include having her tail cut off by the previous owner and tied to a tree with no shelter year round in Ohio including the dead of winter. It was a miracle Shiba survived; when decent neighbors reported the abuse. She looked nothing like this photo and was near starvation, fearing human contact. I intend ensuring all those demons in her experience go away, and she never suffers again for the rest of her days.

Lastly, it must be noted and clear that there is a vast difference between companion dogs like mine for people with MI and Service Dogs for people with physical combined with MI or Cognitive Impairment Disorders.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News


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 want a companion animal.

This is a win-win way to give back to our troops who have given so much to us. They fought hard for our country and made us proud. Pets for Vets are a concrete way to say thank you and to benefit our returning veterans.

Many of our Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans suffer from physical and emotional injuries making it difficult to transition back to civilian life. Pets for Vets can help! Our goal is to heal their wounds by bringing together man’s best friend and our returning soldiers while showing them both that we have not forgotten.

Every veteran who is able to care for an animal is eligible to receive a Pets for Vets companion animal.

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 want a companion animal.

3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year. These dogs can make excellent companion animals but never have that chance. Our dedicated animal trainer will evaluate and rescue the shelter animals and provide additional training to ensure that they are able to assimilate into a home, which is quite different from a shelter environment.

Sadly, there are alarming statistics of suicide, family abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder facing Veterans returning to civilian life after military duty. This can cause a downward spiral of apathy, unemployment, broken relationships, addiction and depression. It is believed, as I believe, that companion animals can be the life saving therapy or friend that many returning service men and women need.

Medical studies have shown that companion animals significantly improve mental and physical health, including reducing stress, depression and anxiety, symptoms experienced by many serving in the military.

Pets for Vets goal is to match rescued companion dogs (or pets) with American veteran owners providing a second chance for both the Veteran and the dog (or pet).

The Pets for Vets team interviews each Veteran to ascertain exactly what he or she is looking for in a companion animal; they pair this with his or her personality and lifestyle to make the perfect pet/veteran match. Once the perfect pet is selected for the Veteran, he/she then spends time in the home of a trainer who teaches him/her basic obedience and other valuable behaviors needed to live with his/her new owner. This can include becoming comfortable with wheel chairs or behaviors needed to help with PTSD and TBI.

Your support helps groups such as Pets for Vets match a rescued companion dog (or pet) with an American veteran who would benefit from having a companion. In accomplishing this mission, a decent effort like Pets for Vets does not want to create an additional burden on the Veteran; with each dog/Veteran match they provide all of the necessary equipment for them to start their new life together.

VT Editor’s note: It is the responsibility of each Veteran and Military Family to check out the credentials and what an organization like Pets for Vets offers, because the focus and provisions of equipment and support may vary. In addition, a good non-profit like Pets for Vets will provide a pet that is healthy and up to date on all vaccinations.

Your donations helps to ensure these non-profits have everything they need.

In the case of Pets for Vets, in order to not create an additional burden on us Veterans, with each dog /Veteran they match they provide all of the necessary equipment for us to start our new life together.

Your help is needed to ensure that they have everything they require. Please donate any of the items from their wish list to:

Address for equipment donations:
Long Beach VA Medical Center
5901 east 7th Street Building 50 (03/135)
Long Beach, CA 90822

Crates (all sizes), Beds (all sizes), Towels, Metal food bowls
Kong chew toys (all sizes), Stuffed dog toys, 6 foot leashes
Dog Collars (all sizes), No slip collars EZ walk harness,
Dog food, Dog treats, Grooming equipment (brushes, nail clippers).
Baby gates

(It is the policy of Veterans Today to help promote groups like Pets for Vets, but we do not endorse nor solicit funds on their behalf. Major Hanafin says

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