Veteran urges caution when adopting service pets from shelters

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Over the last week, the Ingham County Animal Shelter offered free and discounted adoptions to veterans, active service members and their families as a way of showing support for the sacrifices they made for our country. 

“Coming back stateside, coming back to their families, there’s a transition period that can be often kind of difficult,” ICACS Deputy Interim Director Kate Turner. “So we want to make sure that if they would benefit from having a service animal, or a companion animal or something to come home to, to make that transition back to civilian life better, we want to make sure that they have that opportunity.”

And these adoptions could save veterans and their families a pretty penny. According to U.S. Marine Corps veteran Eric Calley, the average service dog can cost around $20,000, depending on the kind of support it provides and the training it requires. 

Calley works to provide service dogs for Michigan’s veterans and has a service dog himself, to help with his PTSD. He says veterans looking for pets need to be aware of what they’ll get from a shelter, and to avoid having too-high expectations.

“If you’re a veteran suffering from TBI or post-traumatic stress,” Calley says, “and you get a dog thinking it’s gonna do all these things for you, there’s no guarantee that that dog from the pound is gonna do that for you.”

Calley says it is possible to find shelter pets that could meet specific needs for veterans, but the odds are slim. And people need to know what to expect before they adopt. 

“There are some, you know, dogs out there that could probably pass for a therapy dog, emotional support dog, or a service dog,” Calley says. “But to get them to that is a lot.”

And the Ingham County Animal Shelter says that with any adoption, they take several steps to make sure every pet finds the right home.

“We want to make sure whatever pet they’re picking out is good for them and their household,” Turner says.

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