Dallas, TX (PressExposure) April 16, 2014 -- Operation Kindness, the oldest and largest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas, has been selected to represent Pets for Vets as its North Texas Chapter. It is the first shelter nationwide to be granted chapter status.
The Pets for Vets program is dedicated to supporting veterans and providing a second chance for shelter pets by rescuing, training and pairing them with America's veterans who could benefit from a companion animal. As the official Pets for Vets North Texas Chapter, Operation Kindness will train, socialize and match companion dogs with veterans in North Texas. In addition, the shelter will boost the Houston Chapter's access to potential companion dogs.
"We are so honored to be a part of this program and through it, to be able to say thank you to the men and women who serve this country. We are grateful to Pets for Vets and our volunteers and supporters who helped make this possible," says Jim Hanophy, Operation Kindness CEO.
How it works: A professional trainer from Operation Kindness will meet with North Texas veterans to discuss what type of companion pet he/she wants. The trainer will help identify one that's appropriate for the veteran's needs, lifestyle and personality. For example, if the veteran is less mobile, the trainer looks for dogs that require less physical exercise. The trainer then visits shelters to find the right match for that veteran, thoroughly assessing each dog's temperament, breed, age, socialization skills and overall well-being. Once a dog is selected, the trainer takes it home to socialize and train it before introducing it to the veteran.
"We use only positive reinforcement in our training program, and our process is very personal and hands-on because we want both parties to benefit from the relationship, and we want our dogs to fit seamlessly into the veteran's daily life. This may include desensitization training to wheel chairs or crutches, or even teaching the dog to recognize and assist with panic or anxiety disorder behaviors," notes Tomi Tucker, the Operation Kindness Pets for Vets program coordinator.
As part of the program, Operation Kindness also provides the veteran with supplies and equipment such as a crate, food and water bowls, and grooming supplies to help the dog and owner start their new life together. Throughout the process, the trainers provide on-going support to the veteran and continue to make home visits to assist with training techniques. All of this is done at no cost to the veteran.
Pets for Vets is a nonprofit organization founded by animal trainer Clarissa Black. The national organization has 22 chapters in 18 states, two of which are in Texas - the Houston and North Texas areas. Operation Kindness, the North Texas chapter, is the first animal shelter nationwide to be granted chapter status. For more information on Pets for Vets, visit http://www.pets-for-vets.com.
"Our country owes our veterans a debt of gratitude. Many of our soldiers have returned with physical and emotional injuries that make it hard for them to successfully transition back to civilian life. Trained companion animals can help with this and provide a source of friendship and comfort that many of our service men and women need. It's also great for the animals. Every year an estimated three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized - animals that might have made great companions if they had been given a chance," said Black.