They say a dog is a man’s (or woman’s) best friend. But for participants in the Baltimore Humane Society’s Pets for Patriots program, the old adage goes both ways.
Such is the case for veteran Shaneke Walters and her lovable lab, Raven. Walters first discovered Pets for Patriots while searching for a service dog and volunteering at another local shelter. The program helps veterans and service members transition to layperson life, meanwhile helping end animal homelessness. In addition to free adoptions to all approved military, the program also aids in the process of caring for the animals through discounted veterinary care and food.
Though Walters could have bought a dog from a breeder, she recognized the value of the program. The Pets for Patriots program highlights some physiological and psychological benefits of military veterans adopting a pet, such as the “lowering of cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels” and the “coping [of] a range of psychological conditions.”
But Walters knew, too, that it would be good for the adopted dogs. “There were other animals who needed a home,” she says.
When she first adopted Raven, a four-year-old black Labrador retriever, she remembers that the pup was shy and nervous as a result of being crated.
“She still has some work to do, but she is a great dog,” Walters says. She, too, suffers from anxiety, and says Raven reminds her of herself. But they’re helping each other out.
“She takes my mind off of some of the bad thoughts,” Walter says. “[Getting her] was one of the best decisions I have made.”
Now, the pair love taking long walks and playing catch, and Raven is becoming more comfortable with her new life—right along with Walters.
“Our home is her safe haven,” Shaneke says about Raven. “She just wants to be loved—just like all people do.”
To learn more about Pets for Patriots and read more stories like this, check out www.petsforpatriots.org.
Baltimore Humane Society
1601 Nicodemus Road
Reisterstown, MD 21136