ROGERSVILLE — Several organizations including the Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council are coming together to honor military veterans Saturday by paying their pet adoption fee at the Hawkins County Humane Society.
The event coincides with Veterans Day, which is Wednesday, although the HCHS is asking that free veteran pet adoptions take place Saturday.
As of Monday, the HCHS is at capacity with 82 cats and 52 dogs, including six Labrador/Basset puppies that go up for adoption Tuesday. One of those puppies has already been chosen, however, and will be adopted by a veteran on Tuesday.
“I am so excited about this event,” HCHS Director Sandy Behnke told the Times News on Monday. “It will give past and present military persons the ability to adopt a fur-ever friend. For those who suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), having a dog will help with anxiety and stress. We have a few dogs that would be exceptional for an emotional support dog to help our amazing military personnel have the love and support of a new forever friend.”
The first 50 vets who adopt a pet Saturday will receive a “swag bag” of gifts courtesy of Carolyn Kestner from M.E.O.W. Events
Behnke noted that although the actual Pets and Vets event is Saturday, the adoption fee waiver is being honored for some vets who won’t be able to attend Saturday, such as the vet adopting the puppy Tuesday.
Another example is Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm veteran Carl Nichols, who drove an hour Monday from Butler, Tennessee, to adopt Thornby, a bulldog that has been at the shelter for four months.
Nichols said Thornby is going to ride on his motorcycle with him.
On Sunday, active duty soldier Nicholas Bevens from Greeneville adopted Rip, who had been fostered by HCHS Assistant Director Haleigh Davidson for the past two months.
Both received an early waiver of the free adoption fee for veterans.
Ordinarily, that adoption fee is $65 for dogs and $40 for cats, but if the animal is already spayed or neutered it’s $75 for dogs and $50 for cats.
All veterans are asked to show their military ID card or DD214 to receive the adoption fee waiver.
“When they come in, all veterans ... present their military ID, and we fill out an adoption contract, and they can take home their pet,” Behnke said. “When the event ends Saturday, we hand those contracts over to Ms. Kestner, and she is going to reimburse us for all vet adoption fees on that day.”
Aside from the Tri-City Military Affairs Council, Vets and Pets is sponsored by Ron Matthews State Farm, Trinity Memorial Centers Funeral Home, CBD Plus USA, Petcare Cremations, and Douthat Insurance.
For more information, call the HCHS at (423) 272-6538. The HCHS is located at 5180 Highway 11-W on the eastern outskirts of Rogersville.