Because no one deserves a hero more than a shelter pet, our Patriotic Paws program offers free pet adoptions every day to all qualifying veterans as one small way we can thank our brave service men and women for their sacrifice and service to our country. Started in 2012 by Dave Lis, a Vietnam Veteran and dedicated ARL volunteer, Dave recognized the struggles veterans went through upon returning home and readjusting to civilian life. As a volunteer at the shelter, he also recognized that animals often experience the same sense of loss and loneliness when being left by their family. Patriotic Paws brings veterans and shelter animals together by providing each other with companionship and unconditional devotion.
As part of this program, 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; and they will receive a program t-shirt or hat, and a leash/collar for dogs or a collar with a bell and starter kit for cats.
Additionally, for many veterans, owning and caring for a pet offers them many benefits post service, including:
Ease anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress
Pets promote an overall feeling of wellness, relaxation and happiness. In fact, a study by the National Institutes of Health found that people recovered quicker from stress when they had pets.
Provide structure and routine
Perhaps no other occupation is as structured and routine as military life; having a pet reintroduces daily routine and structure–even if on a far-less demanding schedule.
Increase exercise and activity
Pets–particularly dogs–can help keep veterans physically active and healthy following their retirement from the physical demands of military life.
Strengthen self-confidence and improves relationships
Pets provide an accepting and enthusiastic companion, eager for your love and affection. Some pets, like dogs, also can help people improve their relationships with others as they offer opportunities for social interaction with new people on walks, the dog park, etc.
Provides sense of self-worth and value
Animals depend on their owners for food, daily care, play and exercise, which helps provide their owners with a sense of self-worth and value.
Dave Lis, an ARL volunteer and Vietnam Vet, discusses his inspiration for creating our Patriotic Paws program with VP of Development, Ashley Mikulsky.