The SPCA Paws & Patriots program was developed for veterans in our community in need of giving and receiving special love and attention, and for animals at the SPCA who need exactly the same thing.

Some veterans have trouble readjusting upon their return home. They may experience a sense of loss or loneliness. Some shelter animals are lonely or depressed. They need a dedicated team of people to help them overcome their fears. Paws & Patriots brings veterans and animals together, providing each other with companionship and devotion. And training? It’s hard to tell who’s learning more…the animal or the veteran.

Veterans interested in joining the SPCA Paws & Patriots program should contact the Veterans Relations Representative at

Paws & Patriots is an SPCA program designed to engage the community in helping both Western New York’s military veterans and SPCA dogs and cats. Using a positive reinforcement method of working with shelter animals, veterans are trained on three tiers of animal enrichment that provide long-term mutual benefits for both pets and people. Veterans assist the animals with readjustment issues, improve the animals’ responses to humans, increase the animals’ potential for being adopted, and improve their lives. At the same time, veterans receive similar enrichment from working with the animals.

The program assists in their coping skills and readjustment from their experiences in uniform to civilian life. As bonds are established with shelter animals, veterans’ actions and overall perspectives improve. They gain further confidence in themselves. They once again find purpose contributing to a mission higher than self, similar to the purpose they found in the military. The camaraderie, trust, empathy, and compassion established between shelter animals and veterans through the SPCA Paws & Patriots program provide mutual benefits, usually prompting the question, “Who is rescuing whom?”

Get Email Updates