Hounds for Heroes
Posted on 18 Jun 2010 by Nicole
As a veteran and an animal lover, nothing warms my heart like seeing my two passions combined. That’s why I’m so excited about the new non-profit in Charlotte that helps match pets in need of homes with veterans in need of companionship. Called Hounds4Heroes, founders Jennifer Bennett and Hilary Walls started the nonprofit in 2010 after reading an article about how companion animals help veterans recently returned from combat.
“My dad served in Vietnam as a medic and returned with PTSD,” said Bennett. “I sympathize with his suffering because I have General Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. My dogs help me when I’m having a very hard time, by just allowing me to snuggle up to them or taking them for a walk. Hounds4Heroes gives me an opportunity to help both veterans like my dad and animals in need. I believe it is my life’s purpose.”
Hounds4Heroes made their first match on May 28, 2010 — right before the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Partnering with the Charlotte Vet Center, an outpatient counseling center, Hounds4Heroes identified Dewey Friday as a good candidate for a companion animal. An Army Vietnam Veteran, Friday attends the Vet Center weekly for individual and group therapy. Friday was matched with Sissy, a six-year-old Feist from Project Halo, one of Charlotte’s largest pet rescue organizations.
Loretta Deaton, a team leader with the Charlotte Vet Center believes the work Hounds4Heroes does will help veterans better adjust to civilian life and deal with their experiences from active duty. “I have witnessed first-hand the effect that dogs have on the mental health of our veterans,” said Deaton. “By permanently placing companion animals, I believe Hounds4Heroes is positively contributing to our veterans’ on-going readjustment.”
Hounds4Heroes hopes to be a resource for veterans in Charlotte who are dealing with the emotional effects of serving our country. They are also working on programs for the VA hospitals in Salisbury and Fayetteville. They are currently looking for another veteran to place an animal with. Hounds4Heroes would especially like to help someone who has served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. According to Bennett, “We have lots of dogs, funding and programs in place, but we need more veterans who wants animals.”
If you’d like to find out more about Hounds4Heroes and what they do, you can meet them at the Red, White and Boom event in Uptown on July 4th and at the God Bless America Day celebration at Parkwood Baptist Church in Concord.