Dave Sharpe decided to start Pets2Vets after adopting a puppy helped him deal with this PTSD upon returning from Iraq. Pets2Vets pairs veterans with homeless pets by arranging adoptions of shelter animals. Since its start in October, it has made two to three matches a week. One of the reasons Sharpe started the program was to raise awareness for post traumatic stress disorder but he fears people suffering may not apply to the program due to the social stigma attached.
Currently, veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and DC VA Hospital are adopting pets from the Washington Animal Rescue League where staff help make the right match. According to veterans currently partaking in the program, the shift of focus on the dog and the non-judgmental, loving characteristics the dog provides makes the animal a much needed distraction and a wonderful listener. It is a win-win situation, both veterans and animal shelters are getting what they need.
Pets2Vets is looking to expand: initially to shelters in the DC area and then across the country in partnerships with local veterans’ organizations. Sharpe’s long term goal is to extend his program to police, fire, rescue personnel, and victims of natural disasters and other traumas.