As I watch the bulldozers and back hoes busily transform our campus, pointing the way to our future with the construction of The Howard Ash Animal Wellness Center, I find myself reflecting on our past and remembering what was at the very heart of our founding – supporting our veterans and their beloved pets. That’s why I’m so proud to announce that we have established a new chapter of the nationally recognized Pet for Vets Program right here at Animal Friends.
Animal Friends and Pets for Vets is truly a symbiotic partnership. Both organizations understand the power of the human-animal bond and the everyday miracles that happen when people and pets are together. The Pets for Vets Program works to help to heal the emotional wounds of military veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) by pairing them with a shelter animal that is specially matched to the veteran based on personality and lifestyle.
Once the perfect pet is selected for the veteran, the animal then spends time in the home of a Pets for Vets trainer to learn basic commands and other valuable behaviors to ensure a successful match. This may include acclimating the animal to wheelchairs and teaching the necessary behaviors to help ease the symptoms of PTSD and TBI. Additionally, an individually designed welcome package of essential supplies from leashes and collars to beds (and even a free dog license for canine adopters) are sent home to support this new relationship!
Pets for Vets Pittsburgh is actively being developed and you may be able to help. Currently, we are searching for professional canine trainers who would be interested in supporting the program. Click here for more information.
Thanks to the efforts of Board Member and USMC Veteran, Bob Fragasso, who brought Pets for Vets to our attention, Animal Friends is able to hold fast to our roots as we reach towards our future.
David J. Swisher
President & Chief Executive Officer