David Sharpe, a former Air Force senior airman and Iraq war vet, started an animal rescue service called Pets2Vets. It helps veterans find a homeless animal to adopt by way of local shelters. Mr. Sharpe believes this service will not only help save hundreds of needy pets, but also help war veterans to heal.
Washington Animal Rescue League Executive Director Dr. Gary Weitzman said the
partnership with Pets2Vets was an ideal fit for his organization, which in the past
has worked with veterans at nearby Walter Reed on an individual basis. Pets can be
matched with vets up to two months before their discharge date and make weekly
visits with them; there also are volunteer opportunities to spend time with shelter
animals for soldiers who can’t yet be matched with pets of their own.
It’s a win-win situation for the shelter and the vets, Dr. Weitzman said: “We
provide them a healing environment, to continue their recovery, but they also help
our animals, many of which are recovering from traumas themselves.”
With the success of its pilot program, Pets2Vets plans to expand early next year to
additional shelters in the D.C. area and then across the country in partnership with
local veterans organizations.
Mr. Sharpe said his long-term goal is to extend the program to police, fire and
rescue workers, and victims of natural disasters and other traumas. While helping
the estimated 10 million to 12 million cases of PTSD in this country, he said,
“imagine saving the lives of that many dogs and cats.”
Of course, Mr. Sharpe would add that it’s not just the animals who are being saved.
“She saved me,” he said of Cheyenne.
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