A veteran who fell on hard times has created a program to help others who have served overseas.
"Patriotic Paws" allows veterans to adopt a pet from the Animal Rescue League in Cumru Twp., Berks Co., for free.
There are other incentives, including free yearly checkups for the pets.
David Lis said he came up with the idea while volunteering with the ARL. He said his dog helps him, and he thinks other veterans can benefit from having a furry friend, too.
"Dogs just have this uncanny ability to heal people if we let them, and coming up here gives me a purpose, gives me a mission," Lis said. "When you're in the military, you always have a mission. When you transition to civilian life, you don't have a mission anymore.
Officials with the Animal Rescue League said the program launched in May. They expect it to become more popular as word gets out.
"They obviously get the complementary adoption. That includes the spay, neuter, microchip, all the vaccinations and flea treatment," said Ashley Mikulsky, ARL. "In addition to that, the program offers a free leash and collar that's patriotic-themed. They get a t-shirt through the program. The dog gets a bandana."
You can contact the ARL at 610-373-8830 to learn more about the "Patriotic Paws" program.