Qualifications: Veterans and military families have to have proof (through a CAC card or DD214) that they were honorably discharged or have an active duty service member in the family. We do not require that the veterans have diagnosed PTSD or TBI, this is one of the ways our organization is unique.
Companion Animal Selection: We work with rescue organizations and shelter groups that assure behavioral testing of dogs. All dogs that will be available to the program must meet criteria for being a good companion. Veterans and military families will then be able to choose a dog that best fits their lifestyle and needs. The cost of adoption will be covered by VCAS.
Creating the Bond: In order for a successful bond, both owner and companion need to know how to communicate. In addition, placements of animals that are not house broken or are disruptive in the community are often not successful. This causes unnecessary, and often times preventable, trauma to both the family and the companion animal. To maximize the bond and negate the above-mentioned concerns, training will be required to participate in the program.
Training/Activities: Although it may sound like a simple step to prevent carpet cleaning, our training program does so much more. As many veterans feel isolated in civilian society, group training will be made available for veterans so that needed social interaction can take place. This is also important in families. In addition, some veterans may not feel comfortable in a group setting. For these individuals one-on-one training will also be available.
The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizens training program and testing will be required of participants within an allotted amount of time. Professional trainers that are AKC certified will hold the classes for groups of veterans, individual veterans and families.
In addition, other activities will be coordinated, such as visiting local dog parks and other canine friendly events.
Standard of care: The feeling of responsibility is crucial for veterans that may feel like they are not important to many aspects of life. When they become responsible for another life, the life of their companion animal, it changes the paradigm. Assuring that participants understand and follow through with the proper care of their animals is important. As such, participants are required to take their companions to the veterinarian at least once a year for wellness examination and other care that may be needed.
Costs: Cost of food, training, supplies and veterinary care will be provided by VCAS for the first year. VCAS purchases and/or receives donations for food, crates, collars, leashes, and other supplies. Programs to minimize the out-of-pocket costs to the veterans and military families will be provided after this year.