My First Donation & Pets for Vets Interview 1/8/18:
On Monday I got to meet with the director of Pets for Vets Denver to donate the dog treat packs from my December sales. I had 13 orders in the month of December, so I got to donate 13 dog treat packs!
I had several questions for Teresa, the trainer and director of Denver’s Pets for Vets chapter. Here is what she had to say!
How did Pets for Vets get started?
Clarisa was a dolphin trainer and got a dog. The dog was really nice so she decided to take it to the local Veteran’s hospital and let the injured veterans pet her and play with her. After she saw that it was good for the injured veterans, she decided that it would be better to give veterans dogs that they could have all the time. So she made relationships with some local dog shelters and started matching veterans with rescued dogs.
What other animals do you use?
We can use any animals at the shelters that work for the veterans. They can be: rabbits, gerbils, cats, dogs – whatever works for the veteran and the buildings they live in. Most people want dogs, but it depends on where they live and what animals they’re allowed to have there.
How many people get dogs in a year?
It depends on the chapter. Ours in Denver is pretty new. So, we give maybe 2-3 per year. But other cities like Houston, Chicago, bigger cities have many more trainers so they can match more dogs to veterans. We are limited by the number of trainers – it is a pretty involved process to match a veteran with a pet. We have to assess the home they live in, what emotional needs they have, if the veterans have children, etc. There are lots of factors and it’s a very in-depth “get to know you”
How do you find veterans that need dogs?
They go onto our website and submit an application.
How do find dogs for the veterans?
We work with shelters and rescue organizations. They tell us when they have good animals for emotional support pets and then we evaluate who it is a good match for.
Who pays for the dogs?
Pets for vets pays for the dogs and the adoption fees, for spayed and neutering, food leash collar create bedding, microchipping. The total is about $2,000 to $2,500 per veteran. And we support them with training throughout the life of the dog.
How did you get started with Pets for Vets and why?
Great question! I actually went to dog training school with the founder Clarisa. For 2 years were were in a animal behavior masters program together and we talked about this organization. So when I moved to Denver and there was a chapter just starting I was able to get involved.
How can people help Pets for Vets if they want to?
There are lots of ways to help. You can help with facebook, marketing, answering emails, helping with fundraisers, collecting donations, donating supplies like leashes & collars, donating money, etc.
What kind of training do you do for the dogs?
We have a 6 week training/evaluation of the dogs before we match them. We use the AKC Canine good citizen test. They are emotional support animals when they complete their training, not service dogs.
What is the difference between an emotional support animal and a service dog?
Emotional support dogs don’t have the same skills or the same privileges as a service dog. A service dog can get a phone for someone, help them cross a road if they’re blind, get them a candy bar if they are diabetic and their sugar drops, etc. Service dogs perform life saving tasks for their owner. An emotional support dog is for soothing anxieties, being a companion, helping veterans feel comfortable in public, etc.
Ms Teresa then had some questions for me:
How did you get started?
One day we were going on a walk because we just got a dog. And then my sister thought about making a dog treat business and then we thought the name could be Fiana’s because my sister’s name is is Anna Sofia and my name is Eliana. So Fia + Eliana is Fiana!
Is it easier or harder than you expected?
Harder. We run out of dog treats really quick so we have to keep making dog treats a lot. Also we just use our kitchen in our house so we can’t make too many at any one time. First we make the dough, we then flatten it out. Then we cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Then we put them in the oven and cook them. When they’re all cooked we put them in the dehydrator. Then the next morning we package them up.
What is the most favorite treat?
So far we’ve sold the most chicken and bacon treats – but that’s because the peanut butter carrot are new.
What are your future plans?
We will have to make some new recipes. We might have to rent a kitchen with a bigger mixer because our little mixer doesn’t mix much at any one time. But I’m just a kid, so we’ll probably keep it small batch for a while.