At the 2015 Purina Better with Pets Summit, guest panelists spent the day talking about how owning pets benefits both pets and owners. As a pet parent myself, I enjoyed learning more about this topic through the day.
But what really stayed with me was visiting the summit’s hands-on exhibits and learning about VetDogs – a charity that partners service dogs with military veterans in need. After finding out more about the program, I was struck by how pet parenthood can impact lives for the better.
Here’s a look at how the VetDogs program works and why the charity was so meaningful to me.
About the VetDogs Program
VetDogs provides service animals to military veterans who are facing various challenges in life: low vision, blindness, hearing loss, PTSD, physical rehabilitation, and emotional issues. Not only does the program offer its services absolutely free, but participants receive extensive training to learn how to adjust to life with a service dog. All pets and owners go through a matching program to make sure that all students receive the “perfect” pet for them.
Along with offering dogs for military veterans who have returned to civilian life, VetDogs also operates the Prison Puppy Program. In this initiative, puppies and young dogs receive service animal training from carefully chosen prison inmates. The dogs receive valuable training and the Veterans receive emotional support and a valuable life skill: dog training.
Why the VetDogs were Meaningful to Me
My Father-in-Law was a Vietnam Veteran who suffered from PTSD. While at the Purina Better With Pets Summit, I was able to get hands on with the trained VetDogs and see first hand what they could do. I wish I had known about them before we lost my Father-in-Law and feel he may still be with us if he had a specially trained dog to help him.
These dogs can bring things to the Vets, comfort them as they get upset, and even wake them from a nightmare! I was truly amazed and think not only what the dogs do, but the program in general is a wonderful way for us to give back to those that have given up so much for our Freedom and Security!
The VetDogs program is truly an inspiring one for members of the military and their families. To learn more about VetDogs, visit the program website at www.vetdogs.com.