Free pets for veterans

TAVARES — It’s been well documented that pets can have a strong emotional and therapeutic impact on those who have served in the Armed Forces, and can also provide an enormous benefit to anyone experiencing an ongoing sense of loneliness.

And with Veterans Day on Wednesday, the Lake County Animal Shelter has a special deal for those who have served our nation. During the month of November, the Animal Shelter in Tavares is offering free pet adoptions for all veterans.

 The Lake County Animal Shelter partners with The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution to offer free pet adoptions to veterans in November.

That special promotion was made possible by a donation from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mary Ellen Robertson Chapter.

Whitney Boylston, director of the Lake County Animal Shelter, praised the generous donation, noting that it will not only serve veterans, but also helps provide a loving home to cats and dogs now housed at the shelter.

“We are honored to accept this donation,” Boylston said. “This will benefit both our local veterans and our homeless pets.” 

Known as the “Companion Pets For Our Vets” project, it provides pet adoption assistance to current and former military vets throughout the month of November. Wendy Henderson, corresponding secretary for the Mary Ellen Robertson Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which is located in neighboring Leesburg, said it’s well-known that pets provide veterans with a lot of benefits.

“Pets have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial to their humans,” Henderson said. “Caring for a pet can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness. We hope this project will enrich the lives of our military veterans and their families, and find loving forever homes for homeless pets.”

The Lake County Animal Shelter is located at 28123 County Road 561 in Tavares. To learn more about this program, call 352-343-9688. For the most up-to-date information and photos of adoptable animals, follow the shelter on Facebook and Twitter.

Last year, Lake County opened its new, modernized animal shelter. It was built to provide additional space to temporarily house hundreds of dogs, cats and other pets as they wait for adoption, while doubling the size of the older, outdated building to 31,000 square feet. The original shelter was built in 1994 with only 13,000 square feet of space.

Lake County also adopted a no-kill policy, meaning animals are only to be euthanized if they’re too sick or too aggressive to be adopted. Instead, the county has pushed for a strong adoption program to find homes for stray cats and dogs, and the shelter has responded with special adoption programs throughout the year, including November’s program for veterans.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at

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