SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — It’s been shown that a pet can be a calming force for military veterans living with PTSD. So the Humane Society of Sarasota County has made it a goal to bring together pets in need of a home, with veterans in need of a furry friend.
Kelvin Rodriguez may have retired from the U.S. Army more than two years ago, but some days it still feels like he’s on the front lines.
“You know the transition period it takes a while for many people, for me, I feel like I’m still transitioning honestly,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was looking for a positive change in his life, and that’s when he found a puppy named Sunflower.
“It can be very stressful when you get out of the military and just have to restart your life all over again and definitely a pet can help with that,” said Rodriguez. “We take care of each other basically.”
Rodriguez is one of more than 30 veterans to walk out of the Humane Society of Sarasota County with a new pet this year, with no adoption fees required.
“We have our freedom in this country because of our military and being able to give back that's what it’s all about,” said Anna Gonce, Executive Director of The Humane Society of Sarasota County.
The program is run by the humane society and sponsored by Sun 'N Fun. Their goal is to provide at least 100 free adoptions to active duty service members and veterans.
“They bring joy to our lives and who deserves joy more than someone who has dedicated their life to serving our country,” said Gonce.
The humane society tries its best to pair our heroes with pets that match their physical endurance, as well as their personalities.
“Definitely not a lazy dog and I don’t like to be a lazy person and she keeps me in check because I always have to be playing with her,” said Rodriguez.
He said it's Sunflower’s enthusiasm and zest for life that has rubbed off the most.
“It does make me appreciate the world a little bit better because the simplest things make her happy,” said Rodriguez. “You can’t separate us honestly, that’s probably my favorite part, we’re like best friends now.”
For more information, go to hssc.org.