Winnebago County program reimburses dog and cat adoption fees for veterans

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:12 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Veterans get a deal and friend of a lifetime thanks to a special program helping them adopt a furry friend.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Rockford Chapter sponsors the program in Winnebago County. Three shelters come together to pay back up to $150 for a veteran to adopt a dog or cat.

The goal of the program is to help veterans find companionship and ways to break free from mental health struggles. Army veterans David Minson benefited from the program saying he was reimbursed for his 3-month-old dog Dough adopted from Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.

“Having animals around the home helps me cope in another way as a veteran,” Minson said.

Minson says his new best friend Doug helps him focus on the present.

“Just keeping busy and proactive around the house or anything we do helps me the most to keep my sanity,” Minson said.

The program reimburses adoption fees fully or partially.

“Why should they have to pay out-of-pocket for that when they could use that money to spend on spoiling their new pet,” asks Winnebago County Animal Services adoption coordinator Amber Pinnon.

Winnebago County Animal Services, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary and Paws Humane Society are the three shelters taking part in the program.

“To be able to give back to our veterans and for them to be supported in adopting is really important and really wonderful,” Pinnon said.

“If (the veterans) don’t have anybody else, or if they have some, you know. emotional problem, (a pet) is just something to comfort them,” said Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary office manager Marcia Brice.

Pets for Vets chairperson George Blake says he loves being a part of the program because he personally knows how comforting pets are.

“If you’re just sitting with them or they’re just sitting with you, right beside you, anything like that, it’s quite comfortable,” Blake said.

To qualify for the program, you must have verifiable identification that proves you were honorably discharged. Payment is due at time of adoption.

For more information and to be connected with Blake to see if you qualify for the program, call 815-491-3120.