Veterans and Pets

For military veterans, returning to civilian life can be challenging. A pet or service animal provides love, companionship and support for veterans experiencing loneliness, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, chronic pain or other health issues.

Many pet shelters have special programs, including discounted or free adoptions, to connect military veterans with cats and dogs who need temporary or permanent homes. You can find pet shelters near you by typing in your zip code at adoptapet.com/animal-shelters. Also, see the additional resources featured on the right and bottom of this page.

Michelle and Ace

Michelle and Ace

I’m a military veteran who recently brought home a puppy named Ace. I went from being a sad, disabled shut-in to feeling like I have a purpose in life. If you're a vet with depression, loss of mobility, or loneliness, I highly recommend getting a four-legged friend.

I first considered getting a dog when I lived in New Orleans, but then I got very sick with Covid-19. I was unable to walk or use the stairs in my house, so my sister helped me move near her in Arkansas. I have a fenced backyard now, and my sister suggested getting a dog.

I'd had herding dogs before, so we contacted a local man who raised Australian Shepherds. Before they were ready to go to new homes, the man fell ill with Covid. He was unable to take care of the puppies, so his granddaughter asked if I could take Ace. I said yes.

Ace has motivated me to begin my rehabilitation process. I can now walk with a walker or cane, and we do everything together. I have narcolepsy, and if he thinks I'm sleeping too much, he stands by the edge of the bed and nudges me until I get up. I went from being a sad, disabled shut-in to feeling like I have a purpose in life. If you're a veteran with depression, loss of mobility or loneliness, I highly recommend getting a four-legged friend.

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David J. Shulkin, Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

“There are many benefits to pet ownership for both veterans and to animals in need of care and shelter. The greatest benefit for both can be a more fulfilled quality of life.”