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National Pets for Veterans Day 2024: When It Is & How It’s Celebrated

Written by: Melissa Gunter

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

Soldier with military dog_PEPPERSMINT_Shutterstock

National Pets for Veterans Day 2024: When It Is & How It’s Celebrated

Thanks to an incredible dog named Bear and his owner, October 21 of each year is now recognized as National Pets for Veterans Day. This special event is used to bring awareness to an amazing program designed to bring shelter animals in need of homes in contact with veterans around the country who need companionship. While you may have never heard of this holiday, here’s your chance to learn more about how it came to be, how it helps, and what you can do to help celebrate these special connections and bring recognition to a great cause.

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How National Pets for Veterans Day Began

The person behind National Pets for Veterans Day and the organization Pets for Vets, Inc. is Clarissa Black. Before founding Pets for Vets, Clarissa studied animal behavior and earned degrees from Cornell and Canisius universities. In her early years, she worked with dolphins and elephants to learn more about animal behavior. Eventually, her focus shifted to dog training. It was the human-animal bond that she was most interested in. Clarissa worked diligently to create a training program to help dogs and their owners succeed in their relationship. She felt that personalized behavior plans and training could make the connection between dogs and owners stronger and more successful.

When Clarissa had the opportunity to work with American veterans and wounded soldiers, she decided to bring her own dog, Bear, along. When she saw the connection that Bear made with the veterans, she formed the idea for Pets for Vets. Hearing the laughter and many asking if Bear would return or if they could even take him home with them showed her the power of healing a pet could provide. Having suffered from PTSD herself, Clarissa had a unique insight into what a veteran needed in a companion animal. She began working on what she now calls the Super Bond, which is used to create a lasting bond between pets and owners based on respect instead of force.

Man in military uniform with German shepherd dog
Image by: New Africa, Shutterstock

How National Pets for Veterans Day Helps

Unfortunately, there are veterans all across the world suffering from PTSD and other service-related situations, and many don’t have family ties to help them through these issues. There are also millions of dogs and cats living their lives in shelters, hoping to one day find homes of their own. Many of these animals will be euthanized to make room for more homeless animals and to give them the chance to be adopted. Bringing together veterans and these homeless animals is the perfect way to help the veterans adjust to everyday life again and save countless animals in the process.

The combination of animals and veterans comes from animal-assisted therapy. Providing your pet with the necessary care can help promote responsibility, routine, and other activities. As we know, dogs need socialization, play, and walks. This promotes getting out in the world. For veterans who feel stressed or alone, a dog or cat can give them a companion to help ease these feelings and show them the love they deserve. It’s been repeatedly proved that animals can benefit mental health.

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How You Can Help

With October 21 being such an important day for so many, it’s not surprising that others want to lend a helping hand. Luckily, there are several ways that you can support our veterans and homeless animals.

Donations are always needed for veterans and animals. Consider offering your time or a monetary donation to local outreaches, shelters, or Pets for Vets. You can even pay an adoption fee at your local animal shelter for a veteran in need of a forever friend.


If money isn’t an option, your time is always cherished. Visiting local veterans or even offering them thanks for their service means so much. You can also stop by your local animal shelter to help walk the dogs or play with the cats. These forgotten animals truly love human companionship.

Spread the Word

Spreading the word is another way to help. Many people are unaware of National Pets for Veterans Day. Tell others, promote this special day, and help bring more assistance to our veterans and homeless animals in need.

German shepherd lies at the feet of a military man outdoors
Image Credit: MAKSYM CHUB, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

If you had never heard of National Pets for Veterans Day, now you know that it’s on October 21. Go out and thank the veterans in your neighborhood or family. You can even stop by your local animal shelter or VA to pay the adoption fee for one of these deserving people to find a pet they can truly connect with. Finally, thank you, Bear, for showing how animals can help the people who’ve served our country.

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Featured Image Credit: PEPPERSMINT, Shutterstock

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