Portsmouth Humane Society works to help veterans, shelter dogs with Heeling Warrior Program


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The dogs at the Portsmouth Humane Society are eagerly waiting to leave the shelter and find a comfortable home with a loving family.

The shelter’s director of operations, James McLaughlin, says he and the executive director began brainstorming ways to do this, and thought of a way to help both shelter dogs and members in our community.

“Being a military town, and my executive director comes from a military family, I am retired military myself, we were talking about ways we could do something for shelter animals and do something for veterans,” said Mclaughlin.

They came up with a program called “Heeling Warriors.” 

“There are so many veterans that have served, and whether it’s PTSD, or they need emotional support animals, or whether they need that companionship to brighten their lives, the animals need them just as much,” he said.

With the help of the Portsmouth Hospital Foundation they were able to get the initial funding to start the program.

“Our goal is $10,000, we’re at about [$6,000] and then we’re trying to raise another $10,000 next year so we can have the biggest impact and help as many veterans and shelter animals as possible,” he said.

They’re hoping to pair at least 40 veterans and shelter dogs by May 2019.

Adoption fees and medical needs of the animals will be taken care of.

“As dogs come in we’re going to assess and try to pick out dogs that we think are most apt for training. We’ll have a trainer working with them ahead of time and then we’ll do a few ongoing classes with the veterans adopter,” McLaughlin said. 

If the veterans are looking to make their dog an emotional support or therapy dog, they will help them with resources to make that a reality as well.

If you would like to donate, you can donate to their website, and through their Facebook page.

You can also mail in a donation, just make sure to make a note that the money is for the Heeling Warriors Program.

You can also drop off a donation right at the humane society.

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