BENEFITING: Safe Humane Chicago
Joel and Wigwam (“Wiggy”) met each other when they both needed help. Joel stifled the pain and anger generated by all he’d seen and lost during his combat duty in the U.S. Army. Wigwam lived in a gray, loud shelter, saved from an animal fighter but facing an uncertain future. Then they saw each other. And somehow, they both learned to trust the human race again.
Veterans like Joel don’t need to feel alone in this world. Dogs like Wiggy don’t need to be lost when they have so much love and life to share.
At Safe Humane Chicago (www.safehumanechicago.org), we are so proud that Joel and Wiggy were brought together through our programs and one of our great rescue partners, and even happier that they’ve inspired VALOR – Veterans Advancing Lives of Rescues.
VALOR is an eight-week training program at Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) for Safe Humane Chicago (SHC) Court Case Dogs – dogs like Wiggy who were taken into the legal system because of cruelty or neglect. We’re working with the veterans team at Thresholds (www.thresholds.org), the Chicago psychiatric rehab agency, to pair veterans with those shelter dogs.
During the sessions, VALOR veterans will get one-on-one time with their dog teammates, socializing the animals and helping them develop good manners. At the same time, the human participants will
- get individualized instruction and support
- spend time connecting with resilient animal companions
- enjoy camaraderie with their peers
- develop a sense of empowerment by helping dogs grow more adoptable
- gain skills for employment working with pets
If some of the VALOR veterans are willing and able to adopt a dog after the eight-week program, VALOR will help facilitate adoption and provide long-term financial and behavioral support for the animals. Also, veterans will have the opportunity to continue volunteering with SHC and CACC.
We know numbers, some almost too painful to bear, that establish the need. The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs reports that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. And 3 million companion animals, the vast majority perfectly fit for adoption, die in U.S. shelters each year. … But VALOR is about hope, and thankfully we know some numbers there, too. Today, Safe Humane Chicago is able to move 70% of Court Case Dogs into rescue and ultimately, loving homes. About 60% of American dog-owning households consider their pets as members of the family. And we know in our hearts, having witnessed the bond that grows between dogs and youthful offenders whom the rest of society has discarded, that a compassionate relationship between humans and pets makes a huge difference for both.
The first class of VALOR participants will begin working together during early fall of this year. Safe Humane Chicago has already raised some funds from committed individual donors. But through this campaign, we are hoping to build broader awareness and raise $10,000 for the VALOR pilot.
Act with VALOR! Please support Safe Humane Chicago with your tax-deductible gift designated for VALOR. You can help bring hope back to life, and life itself, to veterans and dogs like Joel and Wigwam. Thank you.