Our Inaugural Year: Remembering the Veterans We’ve Helped…from Vets and Their Pets

It’s been a busy year for us at Vets and Their PetsSM – in the last twelve months we’ve gone from inception, and ‘someone should do something’ regarding Valley homeless / in need Veterans with pets, to a fully formed organization making a difference.  It goes to show that ‘it can be done’ with drive, motivation, tenacity, and support from valuable volunteers and donors like you!

100% of all dollars received through donations go directly to help Arizona’s homeless Veterans’ pets receive medical care, vaccinations, foster care, permanent housing, and transportation until they are reunited.  Please join us in this great cause!

End of year donations: Please consider making a year-end (or New Year) donation to help support Vets and Their PetsSM in 2012.  Help make the dream of self reliance and independence possible for Valley Veterans, without having to give up their beloved pets, who so often offer therapeutic and emotional support. We can do so much more, but not without help from people like you.

To make a tax deductible donation, please visit us at:
http://www.valleydogs.org/donate.html
(Please indicate ‘Vets and Their Pets’).  Many thanks!

Resolve to make a difference: Consider making a New Year’s resolution to help Valley Veterans; giving back to those who have served in the U.S Military. We have a number of hands-on and administrative positions available that directly help Veterans and their pets in need. Please contact us at: Vetsandtheirpets@Valleydogs.org.


… A few stories of Veterans and their pets we’ve helped:

Gary and Libby

Gary and Libby:  U.S. Veteran Gary lost his job, his wife, his home; and a major injury cost him his health. Libby (a yellow lab) was all Gary had left, and she was worth fighting for. Gary knew that VA services were available to help, but without someone to take care of Libby, Gary made the only decision he could.  They remained together, homeless. Gary and Libby lived on the street until Vets and Their Petssm was formed, inspired by their story, and rallying hundreds of people to take action.

Vets and Their Petssm found temporary foster care for Libby, while Gary received the medical care and VA transitional housing he needed. Today, Gary and Libby are reunited, and living in their own apartment.  … Libby is even working on her Canine Therapy Badge, allowing her to visit the VA hospital!

Sirius and Licorice, two wonderful lab mixes originally under foster care with Vets and Their Petssm, had their teeth cleaned, veterinary care, and some additional training by Vets and Their Petssm animal behaviorist.  Their Gulf War Veteran mom had extensive back surgery at the VA hospital, during their initial foster stay. She received updates on Sirius and Licorice whenever possible, and looked forward to being reunited with them when she recovered. Unfortunately, their Veteran mom never left the VA; she passed away and both dogs had to be placed (at the request of the family) in permanent homes.

Serius

Licorice

Licorice is doing well, is happy and adjusting to his new life; however Serius remains available for adoption.  Serius has had the advantage of having the Vets and Their PetsSM animal behaviorist/trainer as a temporary foster. If you’ve ever wanted a wonderful, well behaved black lab mix with obedience training, this is your opportunity.  Please contact us if  you are interested in adopting Serius, and giving this wonderful dog the new forever home he deserves.  Thank you!!! Contact us at: Vetsandtheirpets@valleydogs.org.

Tiffany ‘s move to Tampa… In June, 2011 Tiffany, a chocolate lab mix, took the LONG flight home to be reunited with her Veteran dad, Mark, in Tampa, Fl.  She did well on the flight, and received gold stars from the flight crew! Dad relocated to Florida for rehabilitation (completed late June), and he and Tiffany live with Dad’s parents, who love their new family member!

Roxie

Roxie and Buddy: Roxie and Buddy are large, older, mixed breed dogs, permanently given up after their Veteran dad lost his job, home, and suffered a heart attack. He loves them very much, and takes comfort in knowing that they’re doing well in their new homes, receiving lots of love, attention (and a few extra treats!).

Lucky, a Jack Russell mix, was neutered, micro-chipped, and vaccinated in May 2011; Tiger, a domestic cat, had a complete set of vaccinations in June 2011; and Russo, a mixed-breed dog, received vaccinations and was neutered in July 2011. Vets and Their PetsSM facilitated these services free of charge to grateful Veteran owners, while each works diligently to achieve freedom from homelessness.

Princess, Maria and Chewy are three wonderful, well behaved dogs in need of foster

Chewy

Maria and Princess

and permanent housing. Their Veteran dad is undergoing medical care through St.Vincent DePaul in Phoenix, and has asked Vets and Their PetsSM  to help find a permanent home for one dog, and foster care for 3 months for the other two. These are very well loved dogs, and their Veteran dad can’t wait to be reunited with them! Unfortunately, dad can’t handle 3 dogs once he is up and around; sadly, either Maria or Princess needs a permanent new home.  These are truly wonderful dogs, please contact us if you, or someone you know can offer foster care (3 months), or a new home. Contact us at: Vetsandtheirpets@valleydogs.org.

Billy and Copper –

Billy and Copper

Billy and Copper

Billy, an Air Force Veteran, needed foster care for his dog, Copper, while receiving medical care at the VA Medical Center. To support Billy, Vets and Their PetsSM had Copper checked by a veterinarian, spayed, vaccinated, and provided temporary foster care, all free of cost.  “Because I’m a Vet, he did it out of the charity of his heart,” Billy said, referring to VaTP Executive Director Michael West’s frequent trips bringing Billy to visit Copper during foster care.

A homeowner for almost 35 years, Billy lost his home, job and Copper is all he has left.   Unfortunately, what little Billy had, was stolen (hidden, on the street) while he was hospitalized.  VaTP’s Michael West helped Billy get new clothes via the generosity of MANA House, and also ensured that Billy had a warm place to stay for Thanksgiving at a local motel that accepted dogs (all on his own dime), and a warm meal via the VA. “He’s a 200% guy, everybody he helps, their heart should go out to him”, said Billy who, with Copper, recently moved into a rehabilitation facility perfectly suited for them.  As part of a pilot program facilitated in part by Vets and Their PetsSM, Copper is permitted to stay with Billy, something never before done at this residential facility.

“A good day’s work makes you feel viable.” – Billy, VaTP success story

‘Little Bit’ is an (approx) 1 year old indoor kitten in need of temporary foster care (thru May 2012), as her Veteran dad gets back on his feet. Little Bit is a friendly, very sweet indoor cat (‘Dad’ requests she stay indoors). Vets and Their PetsSM has had the kitten spayed, vaccinated (up to date), and is searching for a special foster parent who can care for her through May. …What a wonderful way to start the new year, by helping a Veteran and his beloved kitten! Please contact us to temporarily foster a Veteran’s kitten at: Veteransandtheirpets@valleydogs.org.

Thank you for supporting Vets and Their PetsSM, an Arizona based non-profit dedicated to helping homeless Veterans through foster care and veterinary treatment of their pets. These services are provided to Veterans free of charge as they pursue medical treatment, transitional housing, and get back on their feet.


We are making a difference
…but we can’t do it without the support of volunteers, and your donations.

To make a Tax Deductible End-of-Year Donation, please visit our parent organization, Valley Dogs Rescue, a 501(c)(3) non-profit (EIN: 26-0896950): http://www.valleydogs.org/donate.html  (Please indicate ‘Vets and Their Pets’).
Thank you!

Volunteers: Our volunteers help Veterans regain dignity in their fight to survive homelessness, without the necessity of having to give up their beloved pets through the process. We have a great team with over 40 years of combined animal rescue experience, and need the support of people like you, who understand the value of pets to the lives of Veterans.  Positions range from events coordination and support, to administrative, and organizational duties. To volunteer, please contact us at:  Vetsandtheirpets@valleydogs.org for additional information and a list of available positions.

Pet Fosters: We also always are in need of pet foster parents to help support the pets of Veterans in need (time frames vary). Please contact us at:  Vetsandtheirpets@valleydogs.org.

Sponsor a Veteran – Please consider sponsoring a Veteran in need.  Any amount you can donate (individually, through work, or with a pool of friends/co-workers) will go to help a homeless or Veteran in need to support them and their pet through safe housing, food, and clothing. For as little as $400 a month, a homeless Veteran can have housing that will allow their pet to remain with them; a relatively small amount compared to the relief it brings. We have several Veterans we’re working with through the VA who desperately need permanent housing with their pets; a few months of support may be all a Veteran needs to get back onto their feet, and escape the perils of homelessness.  Please contact us for further information on sponsoring a Veteran.  Also, consider offering a rental property to a Veteran in need (with a pet) for days, weeks or months, at low or no cost. Contact us: Vetsandtheirpets@Valleydogs.org.

We look forward to the new year, and helping more homeless and in need Veterans and their pets!  Thank you, and Happy New Year, from the team at Vets and Their PetsSM!

“Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well being of a person or animal is at stake.  Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on the soul when we look the other way.”  – MLK

Posted in Billy & Copper, Dog Health and Nutrition, foster tails, Gary & Libby, Helping Others, Military, puppies, Sponsors, Uncategorized, Veteran, Vets and Their Pets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Homeless Veteran and His Dog’s Holiday Wish…

Military Veterans deserve a certain degree of respect. Putting their lives on the line for millions of people they don’t know, is simply how its done. Whether it’s wartime or peacetime, the sacrifice they’re willing to make is still there, it’s all the same; a willingness to fight for our Nation’s freedom at any cost.  That’s exactly how I felt after I spoke with U.S. Air Force Veteran, Billy S. and his dog, Copper, who Vets and Their Pets is proud to be helping through the VA, and some very generous volunteers.

When we met Billy via the VA, he had just been released from medical treatment at the VA hospital, and had learned that everything he owned had been stolen.  Unfortunately, Billy is homeless (a fact that he is neither proud of nor happy about); he stored his belongings behind a nearby business while he was receiving medical care, and what little he had was picked through and stolen. No clothes, no sleeping bag for the cold cement, nothing to keep him warm as the Arizona nighttime temperatures dip to well below 40 degrees now, and in the months to come.

We’d recently helped Billy with his 5-year-old dog, Copper, a very sweet Sharpe/Akita mix, by boarding her at the Arizona Pet Resort during his treatment; now that he was released, was excited to get back to her. Copper is all the family he has, and Billy loves her more than you would believe. Billy will go without before he’ll let Copper do so, and she does a pretty good job at taking care of him, too. In fact, everyone who meets Copper tells Billy what a wonderful dog she is, sweet, loving and full of care.  Through our relationships with several local veterinarians, Vets and Their Pets was happy to help Copper get spayed, and receive the shots and check-up she needed. However, it didn’t end there. Billy said  “Because I’m a vet, you did it out of the charity of your heart”, referring to Vets and Their Pets Executive Director, Michael West’s willingness to drive Billy to visit Copper several times while she was recovering from being spayed, and Michael’s ensuring Billy had a warm, safe place to stay for the Thanksgiving holiday week-end, putting him in a local motel that accepted dogs – all on his own dime. “He’s a 200% guy”, said Billy, “everybody he helps, their heart should go out to him.”  Michael also made sure Billy got a warm meal on Thanksgiving, and some new clothes via the generosity of MANA House.  Vets and Their Pets is lucky to have someone as kind-hearted as Michael volunteering and running the show.

An Arizona native, Billy was a homeowner for over 35 years before his house went into foreclosure last Christmas. With no family, and nowhere to go, he was forced onto the street. Willing to work despite physical ailments, Billy’s attitude is inspiring: “A good day’s work makes you feel viable”, said Billy, an experienced auto mechanic and former Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station employee. Several accidents and a poor economy left Billy unemployed, while he took in family members and generously let others stay at his home who were in need prior to last year. Now Vets and Their Pets is hoping to return the favor of Billy’s generosity to others, and to our Country, and help Billy find a place to stay that accepts dogs, and to once again ‘feel viable’.

Want to help?
Billy is a uniquely honest and wonderful person; but his story isn’t uncommon.
Vets and Their Pets needs your help, as we help homeless and in-need Veterans with pets get the medical care and transitional housing they need, and return to a life where they can ‘feel viable’. We are in desperate need of pet fosters to take care of Veteran’s pets while they receive the services they need, and sponsors interested in helping to support Veterans as they get back onto their feet.  Please help us help our nation’s heroes, by keeping Veterans together with their valuable pets, who so often serve as therapeutic aids and emotional support, as well as man’s best friend.

Please contact us with any way you’re willing to help, including volunteering with Vets and Their Pets! Vetsandtheirpets@Valleydogs.org I 480-898-3647.

 

Posted in Billy & Copper, Dog Health and Nutrition, foster tails, Helping Others, Sponsors, Veteran, Vets and Their Pets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FOX News covers Gary and Libby’s story

Valley Dogs Rescue Helps Dog and Veteran Owner

click for Video

Updated: Sunday, 20 Feb 2011, 10:13 PM MST
Published : Sunday, 20 Feb 2011, 9:55 PM MST

PHOENIX – Over the past couple of years, FOX 10 has reported many stories about people having money troubles. Recently, we met a Vietnam veteran who literally wound up living on the street. He said he was falling “through the cracks” of the system with no one to help him — no one to help, that is, except man’s best friend.

Gary Owens has a very special relationship with his dog, Libby. Owens said it was like love at first sight when he met Libby a couple of years ago, and he said she has paid him back in full — and then some.

“I’ve helped her, and she’s helped me, and she’s helped me more than I’ve helped her,” Owens said.

Last summer, Owens fell on hard times and wound up losing his home. His first concern was for his dog.

“I ended up on the streets, and I had a hard time with her in my truck, and it was hot, and I had to find her a place,” Owens said.

Owens, a Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam era, turned to the Veterans Administration for help. But Libby was an issue.

No shelters will take a homeless person and their animal.

He found out about Valley Dogs Rescue. A not-for-profit group, Valley Dogs usually finds people to adopt dogs. But in Owens’ case, they were able to find a foster home for Libby until he found a place to live.

It took a month, but with help from the VA and other social service agencies, Owens got an apartment in Mesa. Libby was reunited with her buddy, but sadly, that’s not end of the story.

“I got her back, and on the 3rd of December, I got hit by a car,” Owens said.

He was hit while crossing a street near home, and his right leg was shattered. But even while he lay injured on the street, his first thoughts were of Libby.

“I wasn’t going to go to the hospital until she was taken care of,” Owens said.

Again, it was Valley Dogs Rescue that came to the rescue. While Owens was hospitalized, they had another foster family take care of Libby.

But Libby wasn’t happy with the situation.

And the help didn’t stop there.

“I had nothing to come home with. I had one shoe. Everything else was cut up. The Valley Rescue people came through and got me some clothes. I took care of Libby again,” Owens said.

In January, Owens was finally released from the hospital, but despite ongoing physical therapy, he still can’t walk on his own. That means he still can’t take care of Libby, or work, or even get around in his apartment.

“He was in no position to take care of himself. So, you had Valley Dogs people basically bringing him pre-made meals, donating microwaves, cleaning up, getting his mail, paying bills — anything we could do to help,” said Allyson Young, of Valley Dogs. “He was falling through the cracks. He was too young to get a lot of benefits, not permanently disabled. He didn’t have insurance.”

And Owens is not alone. The VA estimates there are at least 2,000 homeless veterans in the Phoenix metro area, and more than 300 of them can’t get into transitional homes or shelters because they have dogs.

“Basically, vets are given the option of either giving up their best friend or being out in the streets,” Young said.

And that’s a big issue, because for many homeless vets, their dog is the only positive constant in their lives.

“There are many veterans their only support system is their animal and that’s their loved one. We have so many veterans that live in their cars because they have pets,” Young said.

“If that’s what you got going for you, that’s what you got going. If you have nobody else, and you got your dog, your dog is going to save your life — which she saved mine,” Owens said.

With Valley Dogs Rescue leading the way, along with other groups like the VA and the Madison Street Veterans Association, Owens is getting financial help for basics like food, rent, furniture and clothes –until he literally gets back on his feet.

And Libby’s foster mom brings her over to visit twice a week.

For the proud veteran, there’s no doubt that his dog is man’s best friend.

“And if it wouldn’t have been for her, I would have fell right through the cracks, and nobody would have know nothing,” Owens said.

The folks at Valley Dogs Rescue Arizona have set up a fund to help called Vets and Their Pets.

The goal is to do all they can to help veterans like Owens.

Valley Dogs Rescue: www.valleydogs.org

Madison Street Veterans Association: www.madisonstreetveterans.org

Health Care for Homeless Veterans VA Hospital: (602) 277-7640

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Vets and Their Pets Garage Sale raises over $7,000!

VALLEY DOGS RESCUE RAISES OVER $7,000 TO PROVIDE NEEDED SUPPORT SERVICES FOR PHOENIX-AREA HOMELESS VETS & THEIR PETS

February 12th Garage Sale to Benefit Vets and Their Pets: A Big Success Additional Fundraising Events/Activities To Be Announced Soon SCOTTSDALE, AZ – The garage sale hosted by Valley Dogs Rescue to benefit Vets and Their Pets? on February 12, 2011 was a huge success, raising over $7,000 dollars in sales and monetary donations to benefit homeless Veterans in the Phoenix area who need help with their pets, and greatly raising the visibility of the Vets and Their Pets cause.

Often transitional housing will not allow homeless Veterans to bring their pets with them which creates a great need for foster care for the pet while their owner gets back on their feet. These Vets, who care so much for their pets, also need assistance with medical care, food and other pet care.

Gary, a Vietnam Vet, and his dog, Libby, were at the heart of creating the event. Gary had endured losing his job, wife, and home and then was involved in a terrible car accident that required major surgery – all within months of each other – and Libby needed care and a place to stay during those difficult times. Due to other situations similar to the story of Gary and Libby and over 300 homeless Veterans with pets in the Phoenix area, Vets and Their Pets was formed. Valley Dogs Rescue hosted this garage sale for this reason and will continue to engage the surrounding community through future events to raise funds for this special cause.

Tori Levitt came up with the idea to hold the garage sale and with the help of her son, Nash, pulled off an amazing event. “When presented with the opportunity to help Gary and Libby, and countless other homeless Vets with pets, it seemed not only logical but do-able to create a large-scale, neighborhood garage sale with the help of many donors, Veteran supporters and animal lovers throughout the valley,” Levitt said. “It is by far one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had. I would encourage everyone to consider similar fundraisers for the many causes and inexhaustible needs of those less fortunate in our community.”

“The outpouring of support for Veterans and Their Pets has been overwhelming,” Michael West of Valley Dogs said. “The garage sale was an unimaginable success. Tori went above and beyond anyone’s expectations – a garage sale has never been so organized. A plea for help from one homeless Veteran has rallied hundreds of people to take action. These funds will be an incredible foundation upon which we will build an ongoing support network and most importantly provide assistance for Veterans and their pets.”

Vets and Their Pets will be organizing other events soon. The organization will be looking for more support in the near future for upcoming fundraising events and activities.

Vets and Their Pets has a strong social media presence. For more information and to become involved, please visit:

Facebook: Vets and Their Pets

Facebook: Valley Dog Rescue (Phoenix, AZ)

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Vetsandtheirpet

Website: http://www.valleydogs.org/VetsAndTheirPets/vetsandtheirpets.html

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Valley Dogs launches Vets And Their Pets

Thanks to everyone for inquiring on how Gary has been doing.  It has been one month since Gary has been home from the hospital.  He has made progress walking with a cane, but is not able to walk for long distances.  He had a dental emergency that needed to be addressed, and was graciously treated by the wonderful staff at Mobile Dentistry of Arizona. 

Gary’s VA social worker was able to secure in-home assistance for him, and he is more adept at getting around his apartment on his own, making his own meals, etc. 

Gary’s story got the attention of Fox News, and a few weeks ago (not yet aired), they came over to his apartment to cover the story.  He was interviewed by Fox News Producer, Bil Ossher, and talked about his falling on hard times, how he couldn’t part with Libby, and how Valley Dogs Rescue came to his aid.  His story has brought to light the issues that many homeless veterans face.  According to the VA, there are reportedly 329 homeless veterans with pets in the Phoenix area.  There is currently no funding and no transitional housing for these vets.  They have a choice of giving up their animal or continuing to live on the streets.  This is the difficult choice Gary was faced with.  He chose to sleep in his truck before giving up his dog, Libby. 

Valley Dogs Rescue has partnered with the VA in creating a special fund called “Vets and Their Pets“.  All funds go directly to assisting homeless veterans and their pets in the Phoenix area.   

A big garage sale is being held on Feb. 12th, 2011 with all funds raised going to Vets and Their Pets.  We are accepting donations for the garage sale and are, of course, looking for shoppers on the 12th! The sale will be located at 9295 E. Corrine Drive, Scottsdale, 85260 (93rd Street and Cactus) from 8am – 4pm.

Valley Dogs Rescue is calling on all animal rescues in the Phoenix area to pitch in and help a Vet and their Pet. Keep an animal from ending up at an adoption center and being ripped away from their owner by offering temporary housing.  Give animals a chance with their owners.  If you are not with a rescue, but are committed and willing to foster a pet, please come forward.  We are working with the VA to identify Vets in need who have a pet at risk.

Our goal is to bring awareness and give support to a little known issue of the pets that Vets own and are forgotten / lost due to system restrictions. Help us help as many Vets and their Petssm as possible.  Foster, donate, attend the garage sale or pass along this information.  Help us help them.

Posted in Gary & Libby, Helping Others | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Gary’s Wish List

Folks, it has taken me three weeks to get this list together because Gary has been insistent on not asking for anything, so thank you for your patience.  If you have any of these items that you are no longer using, and would like to donate to Gary, please contact me at leelou38@yahoo.com.  Thanks, Ally

Full size bed

Full size sheets

Small desk and chair

Bench Top Drill Press

Bench Top Band Saw

Miter Saw

Table Saw with Stand

Truck Tool Box

Scroll Saw

Router with bits

Multi-purpose work bench

Files – all sizes and shapes

Sander

Air Compressor with brad and staple gun

Jigsaw

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Gary’s Heroes

It was a really tough day for Gary.  The PT transport sent a cab to pick him up today.  The cab driver moved his wheelchair as Gary was trying to sit, almost causing him to fall.  He twisted his injured leg pretty badly, and has been in a lot of pain all day.  Fortunately, my mom and her friend (a retired nurse) will be visiting him tomorrow and assisting him.  We just got a call from the Wounded Warrior Project, an advocacy group for disabled veterans that is willing to help Gary navigate through the red tape.  Gary is talking with them tomorrow.  We also were contacted by an occupational therapist offering to help.  I will keep you all posted. 

We have received such an overwhelming response by people who have been touched by Gary and Libby’s story.  Gary doesn’t have a computer, so I just printed out his story for him to read tonight.   Reading it brought a tear to his eye.  Especially seeing the picture of Libby’s visit for the first time.  Not one for attention, he just kept telling me, “this isn’t about me, it’s about Libby”.  His jaw dropped when I told him that almost 800 people have read his story in just two days.   As I was making dinner, he was practically speechless when I told him that we have raised over $600 at the time (now over $900) in online donations for him.  We were also visited by a good samaritan named Carrie, who brought Libby a 50 pound bag of dog food and a toy. 

We wish to gratefully acknowledge those who have thoughtfully contributed towards Gary and Libby.   You are Gary’s heroes:

Becky Hutcherson

Crystal Arnold

Elaine Gropperbacher

Furnishing Hope

Guardian Angels Catholic Community

Madison Street Veterans Association

Cherie Urban

Matt Faries

Marci Miller

Colleen Muscato

Susan Lemoine

Paul & Angie Haizlip

Sharon Hopkins

Carol Masseria

Scott Hopkins

Mary Jo Lambert

Chris Miller

Carrie Seat

Connie Shivers

Bradi Sayre

Daniella Bransford

Kim Naugle

Christopher Thomas

Victoria Anderson

Lianne Keibler

Jason Haslup

Gina Bernbaum

Sylvia Johnston

Louella Sadler

Patrice Amendola

Karen Martin

Stacy LaFrance

Mary Bystricky

Joan Raskin

Bob Woodbury

Alexandria International Group

Janice Eddington

Tom White and Sally Petty

Mobile Dentistry of Arizona

Dee West

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