CHICAGO — On Veterans Day this Saturday, veterans can adopt a pet for free with Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s new “Pets for Vets” program. Through her program Comptroller’s Critters, Mendoza will host an all-day pet adoption event at 14 participating shelters throughout Illinois.
The comptroller describes “Pets for Vets” as “an expression of gratitude to the men and women who served our Country to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy on a daily basis.”
The participating shelters include:
- Animal Protective League
- Animal Welfare League
- CatNap from the Heart
- Chicago Animal Care and Control
- Humane Society of Central Illinois
- Metro East Humane Society
- Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary
- PAWS Chicago
- Peoria County Animal Protection Services
- Project Hope Humane Society
- Quad City Animal Welfare Center
- Quincy Humane Society
- South Suburban Humane Society
According to the Chicago Tribune, some businesses are also contributing to the program.
Lisa Senafe, founder of Bentley’s Pet Stuff, said she will be participating because she’s seen pets help the veterans in her family and her customers who are veterans. Veterans who bring in their adoption paperwork on Saturday will receive a free bag of cat or dog food for their new pet.
“[Veterans] have mentioned to us, in the past, how important their pet is, whether or not they’ve been in combat,” Senafe told the Tribune, “that they’re very therapeutic and calming.”
The Smithsonian Magazine explains that bonding with an animal can ease veterans’ feelings of isolation and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder through biological effects.
“Oxytocin improves trust, the ability to interpret facial expressions, the overcoming of paranoia and other pro-social effects—the opposite of PTSD symptoms,” they report.
To participate, veterans should bring military identification or discharge paperwork in order to waive their adoption fee at any of the locations listed above.