Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez is consistently looking for — and brainstorming — new ideas and initiatives to help Veterans. His latest brainchild is the establishment of a Pets for Vets policy.

Perez, along with Fifth District Supervisor Jeff Hewitt, is the driving force behind the plan.The pair will ask the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, May 7 to create the Pets for Vets policy and direct the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, and Director of Animal Service to, among other things, authorize the Director of Animal Services to permanently waive the adoption fee for dogs and cats for Veterans, residing in the County, on a year around basis.

If approved, the program would start the first working day after the Veterans Day 2019.

“Our 2018 Veterans Survey identifies many issues of importance to our Veterans,” said Tom Freeman, Chief of Public Policy for Perez. “Among those things are service-related injuries in the line of duty. Other studies identify pets as a positive means of therapy for Veterans with service-connected disabilities. These facts prompted Supervisor Perez and Supervisor Hewitt to team up to establish this program”

Riverside County is home to roughly 132,000 veterans. Riverside County has the third highest veteran population in the state and is the host of two major military installations; various National Guard facilities and installations; and state and federal reserve facilities and installations.

Those eligible for the Pets for Vets would include Veterans, Active Duty, Guard, Reserve or military dependents. The DD 214, NGB 22, U.S. Veterans Administration identification card , or California driver’s license with Veterans endorsement to serve as proof of service, or active or federal reserve or National Guard identification cards.

Spay and neuter fees will not be waived for this program except at the discretion of the Director of Animal Services. Animal license fees may not be waived, according to the Pets for Vets proposed policy.

Perez and Hewitt recommends the Riverside County of Animal Services Department use a special grant secured in 2018 through the Department of Public Health Community Action Partnership to cover the costs of spay and neuter services for Veterans who cannot afford to pay for these services.

The proposal supervisors will consider would also authorize the County to support and advocate for Senate Bill 245. This bill would require local governments to introduce programs similar to Pets for Vets in shelters that municipalities own and operate.

This bill would prohibit a public animal shelter from charging an adoption fee for dog or cat if the person adopting the dog or cat presents to the public animal shelter a current and valid driver’s license or identification card with the word “VETERAN” printed on its face pursuant to the above-described provision.

Image Sources

  • Pets for Vets: Shutterstock