Pet Industry Supports Our Nation’s Veterans

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In a spirit of giving back to members of our military for their valiant service, dozens of companies within the pet community are providing assistance to organizations that aid veterans

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“On behalf of the pet industry, I would like to thank all members of the military who have served our country,” said Bob Vetere, Chairman of the Pet Leadership Council.

Many of the more than 19 million veterans in the United States are working diligently to overcome trauma suffered during service and reintegrate into civilian life. For some, a service or therapy dog can provide significant assistance in the emotional, social and psychological healing process. To help make animal assisted therapy and other services more readily available to veterans, members of the pet industry are backing and advocating for programs and legislation that support veterans’ health and wellbeing, not only on Veteran’s Day but all year long.

“On behalf of the pet industry, I would like to thank all members of the military who have served our country,” said Bob Vetere, Chairman of the Pet Leadership Council. “I would also like to recognize the many individual companies and organizations that have enabled us to collectively help millions of veterans affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We know the scientific proof of the healing power of pets and are doing our part in ensuring that our country’s veterans have access to the health benefits animals can provide. We’re also supporting initiatives that help protect our four-legged veterans.”

Through research grants that study the effectiveness of service dogs on veterans with PTSD to funding that allows them access to therapy animals and much more, members of the Pet Industry are collectively supporting veterans’ causes in many ways.

American Humane Association launched a new Shelter to Service program earlier this year to train and qualify rescue and shelter dogs to become lifesaving service animals for military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). In addition, American Humane is committed to helping veterans heal through its WAGS4Patriots Grant Program which provides funds for elibible veterans to adopt service dogs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) works hard to ensure that service dogs provided to veterans are granted access to most facilities. They are in support of the Veterans Equal Treatment for Service Dogs Act, which prohibits the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) from restricting the use of service dogs in or on any VA facility or property or any facility or property that receives VA funding. Additionally, this year they celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and established a scholarship for military veterans pursuing an education in veterinary medicine.

Banfield Foundation and Banfield Pet Hospital have granted funds to veteran organizations including American Humane’s Battle Buddies program, K9 Partners for Patriots, Companions for Heroes and PAC/PACT for Animals. They’ve also participated and contributed to numerous Stand Down events in which Banfield volunteers provide free preventative care to the pets of vulnerable veterans and the foundation covers the cost of medication and supples. Outside the foundation, Banfield Pet Hospital always offers a 5 percent discount to veteran clients.

Human-Animal Bond Research Institute granted funding to Indiana’s Purdue University for a scientific study to measure the effects service dogs have on post September 11th war veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI or both. Executive director Steve Feldman has also provided testimony in favor of the PAWS Act, H.R. 4764 stating significant scientific evidence to substantiate the use of service dogs for veterans with PTSD.

Merrick Pet Care works closely with K9s for Warriors and announced they expanded their partnership in March with the launch of Merrick Backcountry Hero’s Banquet recipes. Their new line of natural dog food and treats aimes to raise awareness of K9s for Warrior’s work pairing service dogs with military veterans suffering from PTSD. They also granted $250,000 for clinical research showing the effective role service dogs play in the treatment of PTSD among American military veterans.

Since 2009, Petco Foundation has invested more than $10 million in more than 150 organizations that support life-changing work to helping heroes. These helping heroes include service animals, working animals and therapy animals. Last month, their Helping Heroes program ran a campaign with Natural Balance during the month of October which invited the public to celebrate and support the impact of therapy, service and working animals have on individuals.

Petland Inc. has named Heartland Canines for Veterans, a nonprofit that provides companion, service and therapy dogs for disables veterans, as one of its national charities. They work with Missouri Pet Breeders Association to professionally raise and train service dogs which can take 12 to 14 months and costs $7,200 per dog. Petland will support the cost of one dog per year for five years. Veterans can visit the website for more information and fill out an application.

Pet Partners, the nation’s leading organization registering therapy animals has teams nationwide that visit veterans and host events inviting veterans to come visit with their therapy animals. With over 15,000 teams nationwide, veterans are encouraged to reach out to local Pet Partners community groups to find or organize an event in their area. They’ve also recently launched a new advocacy component of their organization and in just a couple weeks have been able to rally hundreds of ‘advocates’ to be ready when needed to help advance pet-friendly legislation including the recent PAWS Act. To find a therapy animal team, visit the website here.

Zoetis expanded their K-9 Courage™ Program this year to help support American Humane’s initiatives benefitting military dogs and service dogs that assist veterans. The program provides healthcare assistance to retired police and military dogs which includes veterinary expenses, wellness visits, vaccines and medications. After reaching the inaugural goal of 500 dogs, the program has expanded twice to meet demand.

For more information please visit http://www.PetLeadershipCouncil.org.

About the Pet Leadership Council:
The Pet Leadership Council is made up of pet industry leaders, animal welfare, veterinarians and academia and advocates for pets and those who serve and support them by promoting responsible pet ownership and educating the public on efforts to improve the health and well being of companion animals. Members include: American Humane, American Kennel Club, Animal Supply Co., American Pet Products Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Central Garden and Pet, Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association, Human Animal Bond Research Institute, Mars Petcare, Petco, Petland, Petmate, PetSmart, Phillips, Pet Industry Distributors Association, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, Segrest Farms, Spectrum Brands, Worldwise, and World Pet Association. Visit http://www.PetLeadershipCouncil.org for more information.

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Jamie Baxter

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