Ohio ó With the aid of a cane, Rick Eggers slowly
crossed the parking lot of a county veterans service
was his first visit to the agency. He came seeking
it was the Navy veteran who ended up giving aid.
59, of Stow, Ohio, didnít get to the front door before
he was blindsided by two brown eyes in a face that
silently beseeched the vet to stop and give his ears a
gone five years without a dog," Eggers ruefully
admitted as he spoke with county animal control pound
keeper Fran Kline as she held the leash of an American
bulldog mix named Clyde who was looking for a home.
gentle dog, estimated to be between 5 and 6 years old,
was found wandering the streets in May and has been
living in a cage at a shelter ever since, said J.J.
Bahr, a pound keeper who accompanied six shelter animals
on the outing to the veterans office recently to meet
cared about him enough to get him neutered," said
Bahr. The white and black bulldog had been taught some
manners as well as a few commands, the handlers said.
agency is teaming with the animal control office to pair
vets and homeless animals in a program sponsored by a
nonprofit called Pay It Forward for Pets. The group is
funding the program to bring vets and pets together at
no cost to veterans, said Georjette Thomas, founder and
director of organization advancement.
program, Pets for Vets ... No Buddy Left Behind, is one
of the funds dear to the heart of her organization, said
doesnít leave a pet behind and it doesnít leave a
vet behind," she said.
than 60 veterans visit the service office each day
seeking help to make the transition from military to
civilian life, said project manager David Burden.
the county shelter and Georjette called, I thought this
would be a great way to help our older veterans,"
dog programs are available to help combat veterans
suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he said,
but the dogs are quite costly.
a proven theory that it helps. It can be a great
partnership," Burden said.
all vets suffer from PTSD, but many could benefit from a
relationship with a four-legged friend, said Thomas.
can give our veterans purpose, motivate them, give them
something to care for and offer unconditional
love," Thomas said.
Stanley, an administrator for the county, volunteered as
a dog handler at a recent event to pair pets and vets.
said the county was enthusiastic when Thomas approached
officials several weeks ago with the idea to help get
the homeless cats and dogs living at an area shelter
adopted by folks who need them.
are fortunate in this community to have good
relationships with our rescue groups, and we are behind
them 100 percent, " Stanley said.
It Forward for Pets is using grant money to pay the
adoption fees for as many as 40 cats and dogs plus an
$18 license fee for dogs living at the county shelter,
Buddy Left Behind is an extension of the nonprofitís
program to help bring one pet each year home from
overseas with a returning local soldier.
serve as a family member that gives them comfort and
peace while they are stationed overseas. If someone is
so connected to an animal they canít bear to leave it,
we want to bring that pet home," she said.
on that recent morning as a reluctant Rick Eggers went
inside the veterans office to conduct his business, he
worried Clyde might be snapped up by another vet. He
asked Kline to keep Clyde for a while and give him a
half hour to make a final decision.
resolute veteran emerged from the office a short time
later, filled out Clydeís adoption forms, got his
rabies and license tags and the two headed home.