Dogs mean so many different things to so many different humans. Some dogs are coworkers, others are fellow travelers, friends, children, and even sometimes saviors. According to last night’s CBS Evening News, no one knows this better than Dave Sharpe, a human who served with the US Air Force in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and his pit bull Cheyenne.
After his deployment in 2001, Sharpe was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to events he experienced during his service. He experienced severe emotional upheaval and often lashed out at those around him. It was at this time that he found and adopted Cheyenne, then a puppy, through a pit bull rescue group. Unfortunately, Sharpe still experienced tremendous depression which, one night, led to his decision to commit suicide. Right before he was about to take his own life, Cheyenne licked his ear and gave him a look that Sharpe said looked as though she was saying “‘Listen, if you take care of me, I’ll take care of you.’” Sharpe then confided in Cheyenne everything he was feeling. All the emotional weight was lifted and he became a completely different person with reduced outbursts and less depressive symptoms. Inspired by Cheyenne, Sharpe decided then that he would help others who found themselves in a similar situation.
In October of 2009, Sharpe and Cheyenne started Pets2Vets, or P2V, a non-profit organization dedicated to matching veterans with their own furry saviors. One of the unique things about P2V is that the humans aren’t the only ones being rescued. All the pets, as both cats and dogs can be adopted through the program, are adopted from partnering shelters (the current shelters are The Washington Animal Rescue League, 4Paws Rescue Team, and Animal Care and Control of NYC) so they, as well, are saved. As the P2V site states: “There are 18 veterans in the United States that commit suicide everyday and one (1) shelter animal is put down every eight seconds.”
P2V currently operates in Washington, DC and NYC and provides two programs options. The first is the adoption program, or P2V Matches, where a qualified veteran is matched with a suitable shelter pet for free and provides low-cost pet health care as well as support and training. The other program, P2V Connections, provided visitation and socialization between wounded veterans and the pets in the participating shelters.
Since P2V was founded, over 36 humans have found their saviors, and over 36 pets have found their forever homes. If you would like more information, or if you would like to donate, please check out the P2V website.
Happy tail wags!