Gigi’s is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Veteran Companion Animal Services (VCAS)! As a pipeline for VCAS’s rescue placement program, Gigi’s will help match shelter dogs in our program with local veterans in need of a companion animal.
Thanks to the support of people like you, we’re not only improving the lives of thousands of shelter dogs each year, we’re now able to enrich the lives of local veterans too: like Andrew and Trike (above), and Robert and Alice.
VCAS is a Central Ohio nonprofit that gives veterans a renewed sense of purpose through the companionship and ownership of a dog. Many servicemen and servicewomen struggle to transition from military duty to civilian life after returning home. VCAS, and now Gigi’s, works to aid that transition with a dog’s unconditional love. Through our partnership, Gigi’s matches shelter dogs with veterans in VCAS’s program based on their lifestyle and unique needs.
“Our goal is to create a mutually-beneficial relationship. With Gigi’s innovative program and expertise, we’re able to evaluate the homeless dog’s history, temperament, and physical needs to make the best possible match for the veteran. It’s a win-win for both the dog and military family,” said Dr. Meghan Herron, Gigi’s board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist and our Senior Director of Behavioral Medicine Research, Education, and Outreach.
Dr. Herron leads the team at Gigi’s responsible for selecting the homeless dogs for veterans in VCAS’s program, which currently places dogs with 4-6 eligible veterans each year. After the dogs have received all their vaccines, veterinary care, and behavioral evaluations at Gigi’s, they’re provided to VCAS and their veteran match at no cost to them. As part of VCAS’s program, the veteran and dog duo also receive food, supplies, veterinary care, basic obedience training, and pet insurance for one year.
Welcome home Trike and Alice
In April the first two Gigi’s Grads to be placed with veterans in VCAS’s program were welcomed home! Like the thousands of homeless dogs we save each year, Trike and Alice were brought to Gigi’s from our partner shelters in rural, impoverished communities in Ohio.
Trike (previously known as Fred) had a long journey to his permanent home with Andrew. This mixed-breed hound was found as a stray with bullet fragments in his shoulder. Because of his injury, Trike’s front left leg had to be amputated at Gigi’s. Despite a rough road to recovery, Trike remained happy-go-lucky and eager to please, relishing his time with Gigi’s Behavioral Wellness Team while he recuperated. Finally, Trike was ready to be placed with his veteran match, Andrew. Andrew is a Navy veteran who served for six years during Operation Enduring Freedom. The pair quickly formed a bond that brought tears to our eyes, establishing an unspoken understanding. The very first night Trike was home, Andrew slept through the night… something he hadn’t done in more than a year and a half.
Alice was brought to Gigi’s from one of our rural partner shelters after being surrendered by her previous owner. She quickly captured our hearts with her signature head tilt before being placed with her veteran match, Robert. A Navy veteran who served our country for nearly 30 years, Robert was stationed around the world during his time in the military. Now Robert is a counselor at the VA clinic where he helps other veterans adapt to living with a prosthetic limb. Robert was more than ready to welcome Alice home, and she quickly settled into life by his side!
Thank you Andrew, Robert, and all those who’ve served and sacrificed for our country. We’re honored to partner with VCAS and play a small role in enriching veterans’ lives while improving the lives of the shelter dogs we serve! Learn how you can help Gigi’s continue saving homeless dogs like Trike and Alice today.