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Paws and Stripes Program Receives Support from Community

An email sent to Jacksonville Humane Society (JHS) CEO, Denise Deisler, about a program for veterans in animal shelters sparked the idea for Paws and Stripes. Veterans were working with shelter dogs who needed a little extra coaching to help them find a loving home. What a great idea!

Jacksonville is a military community. At JHS, we knew this was something that could truly benefit shelter pets and important members of our community. We began with a lot of enthusiasm and knew it would take a lot of work to get this type of program off the ground.

Luckily, Jacksonville is not just a military town — it’s also a caring and compassionate city!

With support from the Jaguars Foundation, CSX, Farah & Farah, Corporate Traffic, and the Latham Foundation, JHS hired a coordinator, who is also a veteran of the United States Army, and added twenty new members.

What is Paws and Stripes?

The Paws and Stripes program is a unique experience just for veterans. Veterans provide the support of a traditional volunteer while also learning the pathway to a new career.

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JHS COO, Lawrence Nicolas, and JHS Paws and Stripes Coordinator, Kevin Kane, (both center front) at the grant awards presentation in Jacksonville’s City Hall, November 10th, 2021.

There are many benefits to this program. For veterans who need support transitioning to civilian life, we provide a structured volunteer opportunity with other veterans that involves supporting their community – and a lot of wagging tails!

For veterans looking to start a new career in animal welfare, training, or veterinary medicine, JHS provides individual coaching and certification to support their journey. Our professionally trained staff train the veterans.

Many local and national businesses in the pet industry also support this program. These connections will help veterans navigate and network in the animal world.

JHS works with the teams at FIVE Star Veterans Center and K9s for Warriors to recruit for our program. These partnerships also allow us to provide additional resources to those whom they serve.

And for those veterans looking for a furry friend… well, we can make that happen, too.

Paws and Stripes Volunteer
A JHS Paws and Stripes volunteer uses positive reinforcement training with a JHS dog during an afternoon walk.

What makes veterans a great fit for working in animal shelters?

Dogs and cats endure a great deal of stress when they enter the building. To start, being lost and alone or losing a family is tough. Then, pets enter a strange building with so many sights, sounds, and smells! Our team does their very best to comfort them with enrichment and compassionate care – but it is still an overwhelming situation for many.

Who better can understand this situation than our nation’s heroes who made great sacrifices and experienced prolonged stress or trauma? They have the ability to empathize and support shelter animals and may have a need for a pet to provide that support for them as well. A little one-on-one time with a dog or cat can make a big difference.

That’s why we are so honored to add the Paws and Stripes participants to our team, and so thankful for the support of the many who made this possible.

How can I help?

Interested in joining Paws & Stripes? Find out how you can sign up today.

Would you like to provide financial support to the program? Please call Theresa at 904.493.4606 or email [email protected]

We have a lot of exciting plans to grow this program for 2022 and beyond. Be sure to follow us on social media using @jaxhumane to get the latest news.