BALTIMORE — As Veterans Day approaches, there’s a push by some vets to get others to adopt an animal.

George Holey, of Baltimore County, joined the military at 18 and served several active tours of duty as a Marine, including one in Vietnam.

He’s retired now and he has lung disease, which requires him to to be on oxygen 24 hours a day.

Nevertheless, he recently decided to adopt Abby, a German shepherd mix, as part of the Pets for Patriots program through the Baltimore Humane Society.

Pets for Patriots is a national not-for-profit program that connects former and current military members with last-chance shelter pets.

“They waived the adoption fee, and my veterinarian gives a 10 percent discount,” Holey says.

Local Pets for Patriots partners help make it easy for vets to afford pet care.

The Baltimore Humane Society offers free pet adoptions for those approved through Pets for Patriots, plus a 10 percent discount at its spay, neuter and vaccine clinic.

The Pets for Patriots partners at Perry Hall Animal Hospital also offer a 20 percent discount for veterinary care for the life of the pet, and Paradise Animal Hospital, Jarrettsville Veterinary Center, Essex Middle River Veterinary Hospital, and Bay Country Veterinary Hospital all offer 10 percent discounts.

Vets can even get a $150 gift card upon proof of eligible adoption with Pets for Patriots to help with food and other essentials.

Holey says Abby pushes him to get outside, and enjoy life.

“She’s got more energy than any of the children that I raised, and she puts some of that energy to me,” he says. For example, “she’ll lay her head in my lap if she knows I’m feeling down.”

He thinks all veterans should consider adopting animals.

“If they don’t, they are missing something. It fills a niche in their life, especially a vet who is by himself.”

To get approved by the Pets for Patriots program, visit PetsforPatriots.org.

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