WATCH NOW: Pets for Vets: Service manager hopes to match homeless animals with veterans | Local News

Donna Swicegood

Neveah captured the attention she received from many Richard’s Coffee Shop veterans on Thursday morning.

“She’s in heaven,” said Tracy Dixon, volunteer/foster home/outreach coordinator for Iredell County Animal Services. Fittingly, his name is sky spelled backwards.

Neveah is a 2 year old mixed breed looking for a new home. She and her foster family, Lori Tolliver, were at Richard’s Coffee Shop on Thursday to present a program to encourage pairing veterans with pets.

Iredell County Veterans Services Director Tim Moore came up with the idea for Pets for Vets – Who Rescued Who and came to Richard’s house on Thursday to brief the veterans gathered for the program’s weekly coffee.

The program, he said, aims to provide companionship to veterans and help place homeless pets into loving homes.

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To get Pets for Vets off the ground, Moore coordinated with Iredell County Animal Services to offer reduced or no adoption fees to veterans to encourage them to consider a pet at a shelter.

Dixon explained that in some cases, sponsors will agree to pay the cost of adopting a pet to facilitate its entry into a new home.

Moore said he hopes to involve a trainer to teach the dogs basic commands after they’re adopted. However, he said, these dogs are not meant to be service animals but strictly to be companions.

He already has a program advocate on board. Teresa Smith of Safe Harbor Skippers Landing Marina coordinated a fundraiser to provide start-up funds for adoption costs.

For Smith, getting involved was an easy decision. “I love veterans, I love pets,” she said, so raising money to pair these two loves is a no-brainer.

To introduce veterans to a few possible adopters, Tolliver brought Neveah to Richard’s house, and fellow shelter resident Bella, a kitten, was also there to get attention and lots of love.

Nevaeh was brought to the shelter as a wanderer with an injured leg. Unfortunately, his leg was not repairable and had to be amputated. While she was still recovering from the operation, her tail rarely stopped wagging, as many stopped to stroke her.

Gary Dunwell was one of those who offered Nevaeh love as he spoke with Tolliver.

Moore said this is the first step in what he hopes will be a successful partnership between his office and animal services, but, more importantly, will bring companion animals into the lives of veterans.

For more information or to help with Pets for Vets, contact Moore at [email protected] or Dixon at [email protected]

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