This August the Humane Society of Harlingen began a discussion with a fantastic local organization Adopt-A-Platoon about sponsoring pet adoptions for returning combat Veterans.
Ida Hagg, founder of AdoptaPlatoon and long-time supporter of the Humane Society of Harlingen approached Executive Director Kim Warunek with the idea and it was set in motion.
With the large number of Veterans returning from combat and experiencing varying levels of post‐traumatic stress issues and depression, it seemed like a win for both the veteran and the homeless pet they would be saving.
While there are numerous studies on the benefits of owning a pet, pet assisted therapies are relatively new for veterans. But, as any animal lover with tell you, there is nothing better for your spirit than spending time with your pet.
There are a multitude of health benefits to owning a pet including lowered blood pressure, increased serotonin and dopamine levels which promote feelings of calm and well‐being, and pets promote the basic human need to connect through touch.
Pets also promote healthy lifestyle changes, which have been shown to improve symptoms of PTSD as well as depression. Some of these changes include increases in daily exercise; either through walking your dog or playing with your dog or cat.
Pets provide an opportunity for increased social interaction and make social situations more comfortable for people who otherwise would not be likely to put themselves in a social situation.
There is also the benefit of structure to the day. People who have pets are more likely to follow a set schedule for the benefit of their pet which also gives them purpose in their day. This type of routine takes the focus off of the person and their mood (depression, anxiety, melancholy) and focuses their attention on caring for the pet.
The AdoptaPlatoon sponsored program was announced on local television news stations during the pet of the week segments, and the response was immediate.
AdoptaPlatoon pays for the full adoption fee of the animal, and the Veteran is responsible for all veterinary care of that animal including any additional vaccinations, monthly heartworm treatment or any additional medical necessities.
To date, the Humane Society of Harlingen has matched 7 dogs and 1 cat to area Veterans. We hope to continue this very beneficial partnership with AdoptaPlatoon into 2015.
PLEASE SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS and help reduce euthanasia numbers in shelters!
Any questions? Please call us at: 956-425-SNIP(7647) or email us at: Harlingenhumanesociety@yahoo.com