Huntsville Animal Services promotions hopes to unite service members with a furry companion

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- June through August are peak months for the Huntsville Animal Shelter. To help find them a loving home, Huntsville Animal Services is launching a free pet adoption program for service members during Armed Forces Week.

"It makes us better communities," said Dr. Karen Sheppard, Director of Animal Services.

Mayor Tommy Battle helped launch the initiative Monday, which will run year round.

A companion is partly defined as 'one of a pair of things intended to complement each other.' "He's uh very loving. He understands you know some of my ticks," veteran Jacob Ives says of his companion.

Ives is diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and has formed a special bond over the year with his service dog Cav, short for Cavalry.

"I would always ask for a working dog, not necessarily because they're great at their job but because when we would come back to our patrol base, it offered my soldiers the opportunity to pet the dog and love on the dog. And that really relieves a lot of stress and that's the same thing that Cav does for me here," Ives said drawing a comparison between the aid that he feels dogs give while military members are deployed, and back home.

Huntsville Animal Services is hoping to unite those who serve our country with a furry partner through 'Troops and Tails,' a free pet adoption program. "This community member recommended that we do this as an ongoing promotion," said Sheppard.

Huntsville Animal Services says that there is no particular breed that serves best as service dogs, it really comes down to the temperament and personality of the dog and what the owner needs.

'Got Your Six', a non-profit in Huntsville, is helping teams like Ives and Cav by providing no-cost training for veterans and dogs. "The most important thing in a PTSD service dog is a bond with the trainer," said Laurel Rose, president of 'Got Your Six.'

A sometimes critical bond for those with mental health issues. "I'll get a text from one of our veterans that'd say 'you'd be really proud of so and so last night. I was spiraling down he popped up, he wouldn't leave me alone, I think he saved my life.'"

The promotion launched during Armed Forces Week, uniting those that need a home with a home that needs them.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting a trial to see if there are clinical benefits to qualify a dog as a service dog for PTSD. The research is expected to take several years to complete.