What better way to help heal the affects that war and PTSD can have on our soldiers then to provide them with love and companionship. The idea behind Pets for Patriots helps to do just that. They may be a newer organization, but their goal says a lot about how much they care for the men and women who fight for our country and their compassion for our sometimes neglected furry friends.
We asked founder Beth Zimmerman a few questions about what her organization hopes to accomplish.
What is the mission of Pets for Patriots?
Our mission is to consistently give the gifts of fidelity, joy and companionship to both pet and person, by supporting the permanent adoption of adult shelter pets by U.S. service members and veterans.
What is your primary goal?
We really have two primary goals: to end animal homelessness, and to make the joys of adult pet adoption achievable and affordable for our military personnel.
How does your program work?
Many people don’t realize that cost is one of the top reasons dogs and cats are sent to shelters in the first place, and this was the case even before the recession. We support the permanent adoption of adult shelter pets by alleviating the costs of pet ownership for our member Patriots – service members and veterans who sign up to our program, which is free.
Member Patriots who adopt through our shelter network receive access to reduced cost veterinary care for the life of their adopted dog or cat, as well as discounted essentials, such as food and supplies. We want to do whatever we can to minimize the chance of that dog or cat being returned to the shelter, and helping to defray costs of care will go a long way to assure that.
How long has Pets for Patriots been around?
We officially launched in January 2010. Although we’re new, the inspiration for our charity has been around for a long time.
What sparked the idea for Pets for Patriots?
As a child, our founder and executive director had always dreamed of liberating every shelter pet in the country and giving them a loving home. That spirit is part of our vision today. At the same time, she was raised in a family that nurtured a profound respect for our military, without whom our way of life would be impossible. One day she realized that she could help both of these populations – adult shelter pets and our nation’s heroes – through one program, and Pets for Patriots was born.
Where does the funding come from?
Like any charity, we rely on the generosity of the public for donations. No contribution is too small (or too large!). We are actively pursuing grants and corporate sponsorships as well, but do expect that the majority of our resources will come from folks around the country who care deeply about the fate of shelter animals, the well-being of our military – or both.
How have you helped veterans and their families?
Not yet, but we’re trying! It’s been a little more difficult than we anticipated to reach out to service members and veterans, since the most efficient way to do that is through military and veteran organizations. It takes time to create those relationships and let people know we’re here to serve them.
What challenges do you face when trying to help veterans and their families?
At this point, our biggest challenge is gaining access to let them know we exist, that we are here to serve them, and to educate them about the unique benefits of adopting adult shelter dogs and cats.
How many people do you reach?
That’s difficult to know for sure. Through social media we’re gaining a nice following and many people who we end up speaking with find us through Facebook or Twitter. We’re actively working with a few military installations about the best ways to promote our program through their channels, and hope in the weeks to come that will help us get our message out to more people who we could serve.
What are the biggest obstacles you face when trying to reach people?
Our biggest obstacle is efficient access and communication to military members and veterans. We have to work through large organizations that are juggling many requests for their time, resources and assistance.
How can our readers get involved?
There are a number of ways your readers can get involved. First, military members at any stage of their careers and from any branch of service who are interested in adult pet adoption, go to our website and apply to become a member Patriot. It’s free, and once approved it will allow them to go to any of our member shelters, adopt a pet, and receive support from us. Since we’re new and are just signing up shelters, we’ll do the leg work to secure member shelters in any area where a member Patriot signs up and where we’re not yet active.
Second, help us spread the word. Tell your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, folks in your congregation about us. And, of course, we need donations. No not-for-profit can exist without financial support from the public. Whatever you can give, we will appreciate and put to good use. If you’re affiliated with a company who’s community giving program is compatible with our mission, we’d like to speak with you, too.
What message would you like to communicate to our readers?
We’d like people to know that a little goes a long way. The problem of animal homelessness can feel daunting; nearly four million dogs and cats are killed each year simply because no one adopts them. Well, it’s easy to get discouraged in the face of facts like that. But if you could help support one military member adopting one pet, you’ve done a terrific thing and made a real difference in at least two lives: the dog or cat who now has a second chance at life, and the service member or veteran whose life is enhanced by having a new best friend.
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