7 Groups Connecting Veterans With Animal Companionship

Therapies involving dogs and other companions have done wonders for struggling veterans, and service animals have long been a lifeline for those suffering from disabilities. These organizations are working to ensure everyone in need is able to connect with a kind animal friend who will be by their side no matter what they're going through. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

7 Organizations Using Animals To Help Veterans

Name Headquarters
Puppies Behind Bars New York, NY
Warrior Canine Connection Boyds, MD
Soldier's Best Friend Peoria, AZ
Animal Rescue Foundation Walnut Creek, CA
NEADS, Inc. Princeton, MA
Clear Path for Veterans Chittenango, NY
Lockwood Animal Rescue Center Frazier Park, CA

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In Depth

When many veterans return from combat, they face a long road to reintegrate into civilian life, and one of the growing techniques of helping veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, physical injuries, or other trauma has been to pair them with an animal companion. In no particular order, here are seven groups connecting veterans with the joys of caring for an animal friend.

Claiming the #1 spot is Puppies Behind Bars. This organization trains prison inmates to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders, as well as explosive detection canines for law enforcement. Puppies enter prison at eight weeks old and move in with their inmate puppy raisers for approximately two years. As the puppies mature into well loved, well behaved dogs, their raisers gain a fantastic experience and sense of worth.

The organization doesn't just stop there. They make sure to find the best matches possible for dogs and their veteran owners. Puppies Behind Bars provides routine, extensive checks with each of their graduate dogs and retains ownership of the dog for the first five years to make sure each pairing is effective. The group also serves as a resource for the veterans in the years that follow, providing support, advice, and feedback.

Puppies Behind Bars provides routine, extensive checks with each of their graduate dogs and retains ownership of the dog for the first five years to make sure each pairing is effective.

At the #2 spot is the Warrior Canine Connection. The group enlists recovering veterans to learn how to train service dogs for their fellow veterans. On top of that, it is an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International, a global organization that establishes and promotes standards of excellence in all areas of assistance dog acquisition and training.

The Warrior Canine Connection focuses on therapeutic service dog training and placement. They offer internship opportunities for veterans who wish to pursue careers in service dog training, providing critical facilities for wounded warriors receiving animals, and allowing for the expansion of other animal-assisted therapies and forms of integrative medicine, such as equine assisted therapy and therapeutic farming and gardening.

For the #3 spot, there is Soldier's Best Friend, which provides United States military veterans living with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury with service or therapeutic companion dogs, most of which are rescued from local shelters. The veteran and dog train together to build a trusting relationship that helps both parties.

The veteran and dog train together to build a trusting relationship that helps both parties.

Soldier's Best Friend's board and staff are comprised of war veterans, practicing PTSD therapists, professional service dog trainers, veterinarians, experienced nonprofit professionals, and volunteers. They are dedicated to pairing and training service dogs with veterans at no cost to the recipient.

Coming in at #4 is the Animal Rescue Foundation. Founded in 1991, the Animal Rescue Foundation has rescued more than 40,000 cats and dogs and expanded its outreach and education programs throughout the nation. The organization strives to elevate pets in society, enhancing connections and transforming the bond between people and animals.

The Animal Rescue Foundation is a privately-funded nonprofit that is supported by donors in all 50 states and internationally, receiving no government funding. In 2019, the organization earned the highest possible rating of four stars from Charity Navigator for the twelfth consecutive year. Only one percent of charities reach this milestone, and the Animal Rescue Foundation boasts that 87 cents of every dollar goes directly to its programs.

Only one percent of charities reach this milestone, and the Animal Rescue Foundation boasts that 87 cents of every dollar goes directly to its programs.

In the #5 spot is the National Education for Assistance Dog Services and Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans. This nonprofit was established in 1976 and has trained over 1,800 service dog teams since its founding. The group is accredited by Assistance Dogs International, the internationally-recognized governing body that establishes industry standards.

This group focuses on training their dogs to help provide independence when matched with people who are deaf or have physical disabilities, and also veterans who have PTSD. They hope to promote confidence and socialization when matched with children who have autism or other developmental disabilities, and provide integrated therapeutic assistance when matched with caring professionals in settings like classrooms, hospitals, courthouses, mental health practices, and the ministry.

At the #6 spot is Clear Path for Veterans. The group's overall mission is to help rehabilitate wounded veterans. While they offer a number of different programs with that same goal, Clear Path for Veterans' canine program is focused on animal companionship. The group offers select canine programs for both veterans and community members who wish to participate in training service animals.

The group's overall mission is to help rehabilitate wounded veterans.

Through this program, the group's hope is that those involved learn the value of the bond between humans and animals as well as the healing power of animal training. The primary concepts that are focused on during the training process includes social engagement, positive outlooks, and tighter communities. Each of these programs has been specifically designed to meet the individual needs of the participant and their canine.

Finally, at #7 is the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center. The center offers therapeutic work for returning combat veterans and a forever home to wolves, wolfdogs, coyotes, horses, parrots and other animals. Thanks to their 20-acre facility with a 3,000 acre buffer area, Lockwood Animal Rescue offers both the involved veterans and rescued animals the space and opportunity they need to heal in a natural setting.

Lockwood Animal Rescue Center is not only determined to heal veterans and animals within their walls, they also are committed to fighting against the breeding of high-content wolfdogs that are sold to people who often have no experience or ability to own a part-wild animal. Beyond that, they take action against the slaughter of wolves in the wild.