Hi...many of you may know me as @DieselPatriot1.
What you may not know is I run a non-profit called Veterans 4 Paws, which I founded to help veterans cope with PTSD and cut down on needless Veteran suicides.
What you ALSO may not know is during the PLANNED-DEMIC I refused to shut down my non-profit. I refused to stop helping. I refused to stop serving our Veterans.
What did that get me?
$9,000 (and counting) of fines by my state government.
It has cripppled me and basically made me unable to continue my mission.
I considered closing my doors but after some persuading from a friend of mine, I'm taking one shot to see if I can get the fines paid and re-open my doors.
Let me tell you a little more about what we do.....
Veterans 4 Paws is a non-profit I started several years ago with one goal in mind...to provide much needed service animals to Veterans nationwide 100% FOR FREE.
Looking at the world from a strong military background sometimes we see the biggest needs of Veterans more clearly than most. The one that always stood out as a front runner is "I could use a service dog but they are so expensive!"
I found it so hard to believe that with all the breeders and homeless pet shelters out there, nobody figured out a way to save our Vets and our Pets.
On average a Service Dog can cost between $3,000 to $7,000 depending on the needs. Upon further investigation, I found a few organizations that claimed to provide free service animals but the fine print always reveals truth. While they did in fact give a free dog, the recipient was expected to shell out a LOT of money for traveling and expected to stay in the area for an undetermined amount of time or their families were asked to "make donations " to the business.
I wanted Veterans 4 Paws to be different...I wanted FREE to actually mean FREE to the Veterans and their families! Imagine that!
I also wanted to be different. I wanted to remove the wording "service dog" and use "service pets", as in most cases a service dog many times is also the family pet. I'm also not a fan of mass production...so everything we do has a personal touch. I enlist the help of 2 maybe 3 people I know to be good handlers and our homes, our families, our own dogs became the kennels.
I also (unless donated) wanted to avoid breeders. With so many homeless pets...it seems the proper solution is to make a bridge to save lives...not buy them. All the dogs I use are rescued or surrendered for a better cause than being a couch potato. I have also had pups from breeders as well. Sometimes different circumstances do require the need for a pup to start from ground zero.
We each only have 1 maybe 2 dogs in training at any time. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BLANKET TRAINING. Each dog is trained for each Veteran's personal needs. I do not give dates or deadlines. Each dog learns at a different pace.
The other issue I wanted to address was the process. Our Veterans have given so much the last thing they need is swamped down with paperwork...so I made certain my process was quick and painless.
The other chief complaint was contact and communication. Whenever they would need help or have a question or need anything, other places never or rarely returned messages. So I made ME the first and main contact. Day or night, call, text or email....and they get ME everytime.
During the PLANNED-DEMIC, many businesses were crushed....I believe on purpose....but the big corporations thrived. The non-profits were equally crushed and many fined heavily as they refused to stop helping and refused to be called "non-essential".
I WAS ONE OF THEM.
The fined me over $12,000 for continuing to help serve and not "sheltering in place".
I've paid down some of the those fines but over $9,000 still remains unpaid and I have no more funds.
We lose 22 veterans per day to suicide. This occurs for many reasons. Some is physical , mostly PTSD....they just can't turn the noise off or make the pain stop. Many people have a hard time understanding why a veteran with a home a wife children loving supportive family would ever take their own life. There are many reasons but the biggest player is JUDGMENT. While families try so hard to understand the reality is they never will. The worst thing a Vet can hear is " I understand"...nobody understands each veteran processes differently. Sometimes the most obscure statement can send a trigger to a veteran they can't reel back from. Things like "you didn't do that before, you never liked that before" (the judgment).
A dog didn't know you before or during they only know them now. Everything is unconditional without judgment. The bond between a veteran and their dog is on a level most people can't understand. The dogs don't just help with physical obstacles, they serve as reminders that our Veterans are not alone.
With all the recent events that have unfolded in our country, I feel that I can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch our Veterans and their sacrifices be further disrespected and forgotten.
So I have to get Veterans 4 Paws back on her feet and start helping to secure the well being of our nation's heroes and saving animals.
Due to being shut down I am at a position of almost completely starting over. Fines need paid, licenses need once again obtained, veterinarians need secured as well as the basic day-to-day needs of caring for the dogs.
So I am with great hesitancy but the utmost faith in the American people to rally around our nations' heroes asking for help to accomplish this goal.
Thank you to everyone who is willing to help out. I cannot ever thank you enough!
Veterans 4 Paws