Veterans Day is November 11th, and while we feel passionate about recognizing those who have served for our country on this special holiday, here at ARL, we believe in honoring our veterans every day. Thanks to our Patriotic Paws program, for the past nine years, ARL has been able to offer free pet adoptions every day to all qualifying veterans as a way to thank our brave service men and women for their sacrifice to our country. However, this program wouldn’t have been possible without the help of dedicated ARL volunteer and Vietnam veteran Dave Lis, who saw an opportunity to improve the lives of veterans by uniting them with shelter animals who may have also experienced similar feelings of loss and loneliness. (Check out the video at the end of this article to see Dave’s interview with Chief Development Officer Ashley Mikulsky all about how our Patriotic Paws began.)

It’s been nine years since this Patriotic Paws has taken off at the shelter, and since then, hundreds of veterans have been positively impacted by this program that has provided them with the priceless gift of a furry friend. In 2021 alone, 86 veterans have adopted a shelter pet through the program! The ARL hopes that in years to come, this program can continue to expand and reach even more veterans across the community by enhancing fundraising efforts and developing outreach strategies to reach as many local veterans as possible.

Today, we want to deeply thank all veterans for their service that allow freedom to ring through our country. We also want to especially thank Dave for his brave service as a Vietnam veteran and for his dedication to the animals and people at ARL. For nine years, Dave has not only helped give back to our veteran adopters, but he has tirelessly helped us with walking shelter dogs and giving them the chance to stretch their legs throughout the day. Not only is Dave dearly appreciated by the entire team at ARL, but he is most certainly loved by all of our shelter dogs who enjoy every moment outside of their kennels thanks to his unwavering compassion. Lastly, we couldn’t forget to thank Dave for taking in our beloved ARL alumnus Betty, a diabetic and blind senior basset hound who came into the shelter in 2017 in need of a new family who would give her the extra special care she needed in her golden days. Now, the two are inseparable, and we are so thankful to know that Betty is in a safe and loving home with such a kindhearted person like Dave.

If you are or know of a veteran who could benefit from adopting a shelter pet, the process to adopt through our Patriotic Paws program is simple. Qualifying veterans who present a valid military ID or DD-214 will have their adoption fee waived for their spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped pet. For more information about our Patriotic Paws program, visit our website or contact adoption@berksarl.org.