Foster care program helps vets and their pets

Robert Houk • May 27, 2018 at 6:53 PM

The Humane Society of Washington County now offers a temporary pet care service for veterans undergoing medical treatment or hospitalization. HSWC officials created the program a year ago after learning there were vets who are putting off needed medical care because they have no family members or friends to look after their pets.

“There’s no reason any veteran should put off medical treatment because they are worried about their animals,” Lucinda Grandy, chairwoman of the HSWC Board of Directors, said earlier this month. “Veterans hold a special place in the hearts of our board members — some are veterans themselves. That’s why we created a program to help.”

Through the Lend-A-Paw program, the local Humane Society will place the pet of a qualifying veteran in a foster home while he or she receives the needed medical treatment. Grandy, whose father is a 94-year-old World War II veteran, said the program removes a significant worry from the minds of veterans.

“They can get the treatment they need knowing their animals are being looked after in a safe and caring home,” she said. “Vets are relieved to know they don’t have to give up their animals to get medical care.”

Grandy said knowing that their pets will be waiting for them when they return home often speeds a patient’s recovery.

“It helps a veteran heal faster, and they are much more serious about their rehabilitation,” she said.

She said the Lend-A-Paw program will care for an animal as long as it takes for the veteran to return home. There is no cost to the veteran for the service, and the foster caregiver is reimbursed for food, travel and veterinary care.

Dogs are the most popular pets for veterans, followed by cats, birds and hamsters. Grandy said the program is also capable of providing foster care for more exotic pets, such as snakes and lizards.

Grandy said vets are referred to Lend-A-Paw by social workers connected with the U.S. Department of Veterans affairs. The program is open to veterans all ages who are on a limited income.

She hopes Lend-A-Paw will encourage more vets to plan earlier for their medical procedures. Grandy said the program is “still evolving,” and is in need of “10 solid foster homes.”

You can apply to be a foster caregiver and learn more about Lend-A Paw by calling 926-8533 or going to hswctn.org.

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