Veterans, Pets and the Human-Animal Bond

The BJ Chimenti Angel Fund for Veterans & Pets, honors the legacy and selfless spirit of the shelter’s long time Board member, by bringing the healing powers of the human animal bond to military families.

“The mission of the program is to provide ongoing support — moral, financial, and educational — to our military veterans and active duty servicemen and women and military families,” said Jacki Rossi, Executive Director, HHS. 

Facets of the program include:

1. Matching veterans with support animals - When a veteran comes to us to be matched with a pet, we identify appropriate candidates based on the desires and needs of the veteran. That pet then goes through 6 weeks of training to set them up for success in their new life.

2. Providing Pet Therapy sessions for veterans - Through our Therapaws Pet Therapy program, animals bring veterans benefits in mental health, physical health and education. Veterans and their families participate in 1-hour, one-on-one or group sessions.

3. Volunteer program for veterans - Veteran Volunteer Groups task veterans with helping ensure our animals are happy, active and fulfilled, creating a smooth transition from shelter life to forever homes. Quarterly sessions cater to specific disabilities as needed.

4. Veterinary and adoption support - In recognition of our military veterans, we offer low-cost spay/neuter and basic medical care to active duty service members and veterans. We also offer a 50% off adoption fee discount to military veterans. 

"We are honored to provide veterans with the support they need through this program,” said Andrea Wendlandt, Veterans Program Manager, HHS. “Our goal is to offer resources that help veterans on multiple levels, while also helping defray some of the costs involved in having a pet. Everyone should have access to the benefits that pets bring to life.”

The program’s first veteran and pet match is going on currently with our partner, Pets for Vets, and a dog named Jewel. Jewel is a stray mother dog whose puppies were all adopted out. She has been living in foster care and going through training to prepare her for her new home. There are currently two other Veterans awaiting matches with Support Animals. 

For veterans interested in learning more about any of these opportunities, please contact To donate to the BJ Chimenti Angel Fund for Veterans and Pets, please visit

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