By Bob Gordon, FOTAS Director of Communications
This Friday, November 11, is Veterans Day, a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served in our military. For a 24-hour period, Americans stand united in honor of our veterans and the good work and sacrifices they have made for our country.
But Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS) wanted to honor and help out these patriots every day. So, this year we launched our year-round adoption discount for veterans and active military personnel. Adoption fees are half-price for all U.S. military services men, women and veterans who adopt a dog or cat at the Aiken County Animal Shelter (dogs $35, cats $15).
To date in 2016, our veterans discount program has helped 36 veterans adopt 25 dogs and 11 cats.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Taylor Heimann, a marine who adopted Heidi, a black Retriever puppy, with her boyfriend, Tom Buchanan, also a marine. “It’s been a great advantage to us because we were able to put the extra money we saved toward Heidi’s crate, toys and other things she needed.” The young couple lives in Augusta and takes their new pup to Fort Gordon Veterinary Clinic for her healthcare.
In the past, FOTAS has held one-month specials for veterans and military personnel, but early this year the FOTAS board of directors agreed on a permanent veterans/military personnel discount.
“A lot of veterans out there are hurting and have post traumatic stress and could use the help because they can’t afford the cost of getting and training a service dog,” said Eddie Hill, a veteran who served in Kuwait during the Gulf War.
FOTAS sponsored Eddie’s adoption of Jenelle, a young, German Shepherd. However, Jenelle turned out to be a little too high-energy for Eddie’s apartment, so she was given to another veteran and now Eddie is going to receive Peggles, a two-year-old Boxer mix, who came to the shelter with a leg shattered by a bullet. Even though Peggles had to have her back right leg amputated to maintain her mobility, she is still graceful and as loving and trusting as ever. Jerry Lyda, of Veterans K9 Solutions, Inc., trains many service dogs for vets and is working with Peggles so she will be a great companion for Eddie, who still suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The 63-year-old vet enjoys quiet activities, like fishing or going to church on Sunday. But he can get nervous in crowds or when too much activity is going on around him.
“That’s what PTSD does to you”, Eddie said. “But with an animal, you love them, they love you. You can trust them and they can trust you.”
If you are a veteran or currently serving in the armed forces, please visit us and take advantage of the half-price adoption discount that FOTAS provides. As always, the County Shelter has some amazing dogs and cats on our adoption floor that desperately need loving homes.
Their lives are in our hands.