On Veteran’s Day, we are often reminded to thank a veteran for their service to the country. The animal community is saying a special thank you to veterans now with a special program called Pets for Patriots.
1 in 5 veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from major depression. Science has begun to recognize what may people who live with pets have known for years: animal-assisted intervention can help people suffering from depression.
The benefits of living with pets aren’t just psychological ones! Just the presence of pets reduces human stress levels and blood pressure.
While the love and acceptance a veteran receives from a pet can make a huge difference to the veteran, the adoption helps animals, too. The Pets for Patriots program adopts from shelters, and it focuses on animals most likely to spend extended time in shelters and possibly not be adopted at all:
- Cats (or dogs), two years or older
- Special needs cats (or dogs) with birth defects, disabilities, or chronic medical conditions, regardless or their age
- Large 40+ lb dogs
Pets for Patriots also helps veterans with keeping their pets when they suffer short-term financial hardship. Instead of sending pets back to shelters, the organization provides aid to keep veterans and their pets together where they belong.
Additionally, the organization educates the military community and the public about the plight of animals surrendered to shelters. They promote adopting shelter pets as the only alternative to buying or breeding.
So a big thank you to veterans everywhere today and also to everyone who makes it possible for cats (and dogs) to make a difference for veterans.
Research and further reading:
Journal for Vascular and Inverventional Neurology, Cat ownership and the Risk of Fatal Cardiovascular Diseases, Results from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study Mortality Follow-up Study
Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation, Animal-Assisted Intervention for People with Depression