This Saturday, November, 4, 2017, Vance County Animal Shelter will hold a special event to connect veterans and shelter dogs. Shelter volunteer Mark Ferri is organizing the event to give veterans an opportunity to connect with dogs in need. Dogs have demonstrated therapeutic benefit, and Ferri wants to help those who might be suffering with the invisible war wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Pope Foundation is supported by the Pope Family, owners and operators of the Henderson, N.C.-based Variety Wholesalers, Inc. Because of the company’s longstanding relationship in Vance County, the Foundation makes grants to support a number of organizations in that county. Among the nonprofits the Pope Foundation supports is the Vance County Animal Shelter.
A newspaper article about the event was published in The Henderson Dispatch and is printed below.
Walk seeks to bring veterans, shelter dogs together
By Miles Bates MBATES@HENDERSONDISPATCH.COM | November 1, 2017
Veteran and Vance County Animal Shelter volunteer Mark Ferri knows the benefits dogs can have.
Ferri said the experience of being around animals has “immensely” helped him with his post-traumatic stress disorder, to the point where he no longer needs medication.
“The fact that I’m helping animals, they become my little soldiers,” Ferri said. “And so, I’m helping them to help soldiers, I’m helping them to help the airmen and the sailors and the Marines. I’m helping these dogs to potentially to help someone else and thereby I’m helping that other person.”
Shelter dogs help veterans not to be isolated and give them responsibility, he said. They also give them a sense of independence.
Many veterans have told him that having a dog has saved their lives. “Some of them won’t go without having the dog with them — that dog stays with them 24 hours a day,” he said.
He said veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD will find it beneficial to come to the shelter and walk a dog.
On Saturday, veterans will have an opportunity to walk dogs at the Vance County Animal Shelter during the Veterans Dog Walk from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The event is free and anyone can go to it, said Ferri. This is the event’s second year.
Through the Veterans Dog Walk, Ferri said he’s trying to create awareness about veterans’ issues pertaining to mental illness, which has caused a lot of veterans to commit suicide.
Ferri said he’s trying to get people in the community — and in surrounding communities — aware of what they can do or what resources are available to them to help a veteran. “Or the veteran themselves,” he said. “What can that person do for himself or herself to … deal with, you know, the mental illness [such as PTSD],” he said.
He’s thinking of having staff or volunteers take pictures of people and the dogs they walk either before or after they walk them that day.
Terry Morris of Vets To Vets United, Inc. and veteran Linwood Martin, who is veterans service officer for Vance County, will both be on hand to speak with veterans. Ferri said Morris will talk to veterans about what Vets To Vets United, Inc. will be able to offer in terms of getting them connected with a shelter dog to be trained.
For more information about the Vance County Animal Shelter visit their website: http://vancecountyanimalshelter.com.