Prince George’s County is teaming up with Pets for Patriots to help provide companions for soldiers who are coping with the horrors of war. The Prince George’s County Animal Management Division (PGAMD) has partnered with New York-based Pets for Patriots since 2013, offering a program that provides free pets for soldiers. Beth Zimmerman, founder […]
Prince George’s County is teaming up with Pets for Patriots to help provide companions for soldiers who are coping with the horrors of war.
The Prince George’s County Animal Management Division (PGAMD) has partnered with New York-based Pets for Patriots since 2013, offering a program that provides free pets for soldiers.
Beth Zimmerman, founder and executive director for Pets for Patriots said she created the organization to help veterans while also helping overlooked animals find new homes.
“We help veterans ease the transition to civilian life,” Zimmerman said. “We help those coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse or other psychological issues regain a sense of purpose in their lives. And we help veterans who are lonely or alone bring an immediate and loving presence into their lives.”
Chief Rodney Taylor, associate director of the animal management division, said program serves individuals from all branches of the armed forces at any stage of their career: active, retired, veteran, prior service, reserve, inactive reserve and the National Guard.
Emily Anderson, army reservist, adopted her dog Bentley through the partnership in Sept. 2013. Anderson said she spent two years trying to decide if she wanted a dog, still finding herself unsure when she visited a rescue shelter. However, when she found Bentley she knew she had found a perfect match.
“It’s funny because I went to three different rescue shelters. When I walked into that last shelter, I fell in love with a dog,” Anderson said. “He put his head in his lap and looked up at me with puppy dog eyes. When I come home every day, he’s at the door waiting for me.”
Zimmerman said there are several steps in the adoption process. Veterans must first apply and be approved by Pets for Patriots prior to adoption. Once approved, they receive information about which adoption and veterinary partners are closest to their home and reminders about which pets are eligible for adoption through the program.
“This is a win-win situation for those who have so bravely served our country and the animals at the Animal Services Facility who are looking for a new forever home,” Taylor said. “Veterans with post-traumatic stress disoder, individuals living alone, and men and women separating from service looking to ease the transition to civilian life are strongly encouraged to apply.”
Anderson said she does not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, but Bentley is good for her health.
“Sometimes I think he has human in him because he can sit there and listen while I talk,” Anderson said. “It’s just like he understands and having that is good.”
Taylor said adoptable pets are adult dogs and cats two years or older; a large dog forty pounds or over, regardless of age; or a special needs dog or cat. Veterans who adopt from PGAMD receive a virtual veterans’ pet food bank to ease the cost of food and essentials and ongoing discounted medical care.
Veterans looking to adopt should apply online at at http://petsforpatriots.org.