Pets for Patriots
By L. Joan Allen
Pets for Patriots, a program that matches members of the military with hard-to-place pets, was a match made in heaven for George Holy and his wife, Margaret.
Holy, a retired Master Gunnery Sergeant in the Marines, swore he would never adopt another pet after losing his beloved dog Casey of almost 15 years.
“My wife said, ‘We’re going to get another dog.’ She saw Abby on the Humane Society web page. With it there was a blurb on Pets for Patriots. I read it and said, ‘I qualify for that!’ We went down, and it was love at first sight.”
Abby, a 58 pound German shepherd mix, stole her new parents’ hearts.
Holy says, “She’s a little over a year old, and still a puppy. She’s ten pounds of energy in a five-pound sack. She will wear you out. She will curl up and try to get on your lap. When I sit in my recliner, she will jump in, so her backside is behind me, and her head is in my lap.”
According to Holy, Abby is protective but not aggressive to other dogs that she is introduced to. “She looks out our window over our back yard; if it’s in sight she owns it. If someone is walking another dog behind our house, she starts barking and saying ‘don’t get too near my house.’ She’s friendly to dogs and people she’s associated with,” says Holy.
It’s been five months since the Holy’s adopted Abby, and it’s changed their world. “I wouldn’t trade her for anything. I didn’t think I’d have another dog. I didn’t want to go through that again. Then Abby came into my life, and it changed my outlook,” says Holy.
“Dogs are the best part of people,” Holy says. “When Momma’s not here, I have someone to talk to who listens.”
There are other benefits to the Pets for Patriots program besides providing companionship to active or inactive members of the military. Participants in the Pets for Patriots program like Laura and Byron Livingston, are thrilled that the process for joining is so simple, and the benefits are so helpful financially.
Laura and Byron Livingston and their two children adopted two male dogs—Blaze, a Yorkshire terrier, and Pax, a short hair Chihuahua while, Byron was on shore duty in Maryland. Byron, currently in the navy is a CTR2 serving eight years.
Like the Holy family, the Livingtons searched on the Baltimore Humane Society website and saw a link that directed them to the Pets for Patriots website.
Laura Livingston says, “We submitted information on a Sunday. My husband followed through with a phone call Monday letting them know we would be picking up our new four legged friends on Wednesday, and we were approved on the spot! Very easy and accommodating.”
At the Baltimore Humane Society, once the application is approved, the adoption fee is waived. Participants also receive a ten percent discount for the low cost Spay, Neuter, and Vaccine Clinic, a 20 percent discount for veterinary care for the life of the pet at the Perry Hall Animal Hospital or ten per cent discount at the Essex, Middle River Veterinary Hospital. These discounts help ensure that service members will be able to afford their pets’ medical care.
Participants also receive a $150 gift card upon proof of eligible adoption with the Pets for Patriots program to help with food and other supplies.
“Through our partnership with Pets for Patriots, we hope to provide forever homes for even more loving animals with the many service members and veterans in our area. It’s a program that helps meet the needs of both our military and our homeless dogs and cats. Everybody wins.” Said Wendy Goldband, Director of Marketing & Public Relations at the Baltimore Humane Society.
Laura Livingston believes the rewards of owning a dog are priceless. “Blaze and Pax just give us compassion. In a month or so, they have brought us closer as a family, hanging out on the couch, running up to us, licking us, walking together.”
“Blaze is just a very, big dog syndrome in a little dog body,” says Livingston. “When I go to hug my children or husband, he’ll bark like he’s saying, ‘That’s my person.’ He’s taken ownership of us. He’s very protective.
“Pax has a lot of energy,” she says. “When we met him, he was shy and timid. It took two days for him to break out of that cycle. He plays fetch, runs around, and he’s a ball of fun.”
One of the missions of the Pets for Patriots Program is to adopt out pets that are two years of age or older. Adopting older pets worked out well for the Livingstons.
“We weren’t looking for a dog to potty train or housebreak. Meeting them and seeing that they had some training was the perfect fit for us. That’s what we were looking for,” says Livingston. “Blaze is five-and-a-half, and Pax is four.”
For some participants, the Pets for Patriots Program can also offer health benefits. Pedro Ocampo, Master Sergeant Army has served for 19 years. Pedro adopted Ghost, a five-year-old black lab/pit bull mix, in January 2014.
“Ghost has enhanced my life in many ways,” says Ocampo. “When we took walks around the city and came across places crowded with people, his presence along my side would make me feel more at ease with his company. Dealing with anxiety and PTSD (Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder), it is not always easy to be in loud or crowded places for me, and having Ghost around takes my focus from the rest of the people.
Ghost is the perfect addition to Ocampo’s family. “My kids and family love Ghost. He is friendly and always willing to give love to all that approach him. I love the fact that from the moment he came home with me he was ready to go or just hang out lounging around the house, but he is always attentive to my next move.
“I am more active and do more things outdoors thanks to Ghost. I most definitely recommend the Pets for Patriots program for anyone who is looking to find a pet and meets the requirements. It is an outstanding program.”
Maryland Shelters in Pets 4 Patriots
Baltimore County Animal Shelter
Baltimore Humane Society
Caroline County Humane Society
Humane Society of Harford County
Prince George’s County Animal Mgmt Div
Maryland Veterinarians in the Pets 4 Patriots program
Animal Medical Center of Bel Air
Animal Medical Center of Watkins Park
Baltimore HS Spay/Neuter & Wellness
Bay Country Veterinary Hospital
Essex-Middle River Veterinary Center
Jarrettsville Veterinary Center
Kenwood Animal Hospital
Paradise Animal Hospital
Perry Hall Animal Hospital
Prince George’s Animal Hospital
Rock Creek Home Veterinary Care
Veterinary Neurology of the Chesapeake