Paul Crown sat on the couch at his Wellington Drive home last week; his newly adopted Doberman, Sugar, lay on the floor at his feet.
Crown was the first resident to adopt from the Flagler Humane Society through Pets for Patriots Inc., a nonprofit that aims to help people and pets through pet adoptions for United States military veterans and service members. The Flagler Humane Society has been on the waiting list to offer the program for some time now, but Jeffery Ritter, development coordinator at the Flagler Humane Society, said they needed to wait for the program to get the funding to take on new partners.
Joining Pets for Patriots is free to veterans, though they are responsible for Flagler Humane Society’s adoption fee, which will only be $10 for program members. To reduce the chance that these pets are surrendered, the charity sends a $150 gift card upon proof of eligible adoption to help with food and other essentials, and provides access to local veterinary partners who agree to offer ongoing discounted care.
For Crown, who served with the Army’s 3rd Cavalry Airborne from 1967 to 1069 and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the chance to adopt Sugar with minimal fees was another chance at comfort.
“A dog gives me peace of mind,” Crown said. “They make me feel grounded, because with the problems I had in the service, they make me feel very relaxed. Psychologically, it’s very good for the mind.”
Crown also said that his dogs help him to get exercise and that he enjoys spoiling them with home-cooked chicken and scrambled eggs from time to time.
Sugar was found in a cabbage patch and came to the Humane Society with a skin allergy, but Crown said she is smart and sweet.
“Our goal is to help our adoption partners re-home harder-to-place pets that still have years of love and life to give, while at the same time making it more affordable for military personnel to bring a pet into their lives,” said Beth Zimmerman, founder and executive director of Pets for Patriots in a press release. “We’re delighted to work with Flagler Humane Society to give these last-chance pets a second chance at life and, in so doing, to enhance the lives of veterans in the community. Everybody wins.”
Flagler Humane Society quickly saw the potential to find hard-to-adopt dogs and cats permanent homes with service members.
“We adopted out 1,601 animals last year,” said Amy Wade-Carotenuto, Flagler Humane Society Executive Director. “Through our partnership with Pets for Patriots, we hope to provide forever homes to even more loving animals with the many service members and veterans in our area.”
Individuals from all United States armed forces and at any stage of their careers are welcome to apply for the program. Eligible pets must meet one of three criteria: dog or cat two years or older or with special needs, or dog over 40 pounds. Individuals must first apply through Pets for Patriots, at petsforpatriots.org, and provide relevant eligibility documents. Approval typically takes no more than two business days, after which they can visit Flagler Humane Society to find their new best friend.
Ritter said this adoption was the first of what he hopes will be many to come in the future.
“It will be an ongoing program as long as the funding lasts,” he said.