PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The Portsmouth Humane Society has launched a new program aimed to help service members in addition to the animals they care for.
The "Healing Warriors" program began this month and is helping make pet ownership possible for anyone who has served in the military.
"We understand for some folks that have served, there are challenges when they are adjusting back to civilian life," explained Portsmouth Humane Society Executive Director Alison Fechino. "Multiple studies have shown that pet ownership can be really helpful with making that a smooth transition and getting those folks back into the world."
The program is funded by grant money awarded to the shelter. The money will now cover any and all costs associated with adopting a pet from the Portsmouth Humane Society.
"The grant covers the adoption fees, but it also covers all the medical costs, including vaccinations," explained Emily Friedland with the shelter. "If it’s a dog that someone may be worried about with potential health problems, we will do extensive blood work to see if there is something else going on that we can't see from the outside. It will cover those costs, too."
Shelter staff hope the new program will help ease any concerns a potential pet owner has.
"Just being able to give them the comfort of knowing that this animal won't be a financial burden or put them in trouble in a few months or few years is helpful for people to know," Friedland said.
If a veteran or service member wants to adopt an animal from the shelter, they just need to provide proof of their service. The program is open to all military branches and to all animals in the shelter.
"We have dogs, cats and small animals here," Fechino said. "Any critter that you think is going to enhance your life, you can use the adopt fee waiver for."
For more information about this program visit the Portsmouth Humane Society's website.