When our service men and women return from action, they often carry wounds the rest of us cannot see. Up to one in five veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress; and, sadly, more than 6,000 veterans die each year from suicide. When medicines and therapy fall short, trained service dogs can make a difference.
To help these veterans, American Humane was joined last week at Eau Palm in Manalapan, Florida by more than 300 people, including several generals, a rear admiral, 100 veterans and retired military warriors, and 200 veterans’ advocates including internationally renowned philanthropist Lois Pope in support of the organization’s “Pups4Patriots” program.
“There are many worthy causes in the world, but few inspire more people than working to help our nation’s brave veterans and our nation’s animals in need,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “Tonight, with your help, and the support of some of the nation’s leading advocates for our military heroes and homeless animals, we will save more lives – on both ends of the leash.”
American Humane’s “Pups4Patriots” program identifies dogs in need of forever homes and trains them to be lifesaving service dogs free of charge for veterans with PTS and Traumatic Brain Injury– improving and often saving lives on either ends of each healing leash. The process of obtaining a PTS service dog can take between 18 and 24 months, and cost upward of $30,000. A cost that is out of reach for many veterans. With too few trained service dogs available for our service men and women in need, American Humane provides critically necessary training and service dogs to veterans in need.
During the star-studded gala, American Humane’s latest graduating veteran/service dog teams received special diplomas conferred by American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert, keynote speaker U.S. Army Major General James A. “Spider” Marks (Ret.), United States Navy Rear Admiral Thomas Kearney (Ret.), and Mel Coleman, a veteran and vice president of Coleman Natural Foods, a major sponsor of the program. The new teams were cheered on by more than 100 veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East and their families.
“Nothing is more important than giving our veterans the weapons to win their private battles here at home,” said General Marks. “American Humane’s 104 years of experience in supporting our country’s service men, women and military animals gives them deep insights into how to better protect those who have spent a lifetime protecting us.”
“I am honored to be a small part of this remarkable organization that has a long history of seeing a need and taking solid action to make things right,” said Admiral Kearney, a board member of American Humane. “From the first animal rescues at the end of WWI, to today, American Humane has been dedicated to helping our veterans in need and is now devoting their time and efforts toward enabling the life-changing affects that these dogs can have on them.”
“Last year as I sat in this room, I was moved by the meaningful work that American Humane was doing through Pups4Patriots and knew that I didn’t just want to be a bystander,” said Mel Coleman, vice president of Coleman Natural Foods. “That’s why we pledged to fund the training for more than two dozen dogs over the next few years.” In addition to this pledge, Jeff Tripician, president of Perdue Premium Meat Company and Coleman Natural, donated his 2002 Silver C5 Convertible Corvette to be auctioned online. Interested bidders may visit AmericanHumane.org/Corvette.
Additional Support Pours In
Responding to an emotional call to action, a number of generous individuals and companies pledged significant additional support to fund the training of specialized service dogs for veterans. Kevin Hubbard, co-founder of Rhoback Activewear, added to the company’s powerful past support with a gift of $50,000. Allison Bennett announced a pledge by Hallmark Channel of $60,000. And Dr. J. Michael McFarland unveiled a pledge by leading animal healthcare company Zoetis of $120,000.
“On behalf of America’s veterans and the many wonderful animals who will find not just a forever home but a new mission in life, we thank all of you,” said Dr. Ganzert. “Because of remarkable support like this, more than 125 healing leashes have already been put in the hands of our wounded warriors and many more will benefit.”