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Program matches pets to veterans

Posted: December 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Elaina Robbins snuggles with Yankee Boy, bottom, and Kittyhawk, middle. Both dogs are rescues. Elaina Robbins snuggles with Yankee Boy, bottom, and Kittyhawk, middle. Both dogs are rescues.
Elaina Robbins snuggles with Yankee Boy, bottom, and Kittyhawk, middle. Both dogs are rescues.

He was just another brown Chihuahua in a county shelter, a stray waiting for the day when he would be adopted.

They were looking for a dog to save, one that might take away the pain of combat memories for the man of the house.

When Yankee Boy met the Robbins family, of Valencia, it was the beginning of a healing journey for everyone involved.

“He just came up to us, it was as if he had a grateful heart and wasn’t expecting much from anyone, but had a lot of love to give,” recalled Sarah Robbins. “It was a really good day for our family when we adopted Yankee Boy and it’s continued to be a blessing to have this new pup.”

The adoption was free to the Robbins family as part of Pets to Patriots, since Kent Robbins is a military veteran.

The Los Angeles Animal Alliance program, sponsored by the Jason Debus Heigl foundation, is offering free Los Angeles County shelter pet adoptions to veterans through Dec. 31. The usual adoption, spay or neuter and vaccination fees, which can cost $100 or more, are waived; adopters must still pay a $20 county licensing fee.

According to the Los Angeles Animal Alliance website, the mission of Pets to Patriots is to “honor and enhance the lives of our heroes with companion animals in recognition and celebration of their service. Pets to Patriots simultaneously seeks to serve animal shelters and the wonderful homeless cats and dogs who are in need of loving forever homes.”

Participating shelters include Castaic Animal Shelter, where Yankee Boy was housed before being paired with the Robbins family at a mobile adoption event at PetSmart in Stevenson Ranch.

“Besides the fact that the adoption was free, it was just nice to know that people care about the service that veterans have given, that they’re thought of, and that organizations like this honor the families,” Sarah Robbins said.

The Robbins family, which includes five children, came to the adoption event with their existing rescue dog, Kittyhawk, to make sure the canines would be a good fit.

Sarah Robbins had seen Yankee Boy’s photo online before the meeting and already felt a connection.

“He was so sad and sweet, he just touched our heart,” she said. “When we met Yankee Boy in person, that’s when we all fell in love. He just came up shyly, with his head down and his tail between his legs to see if we would pet him. When we did, he start wagging his tail, like, ‘Thank you for giving me attention.’”

After Yankee Boy and Kittyhawk hit it off, the Robbins filled out the adoption paperwork, which was also a positive experience, according to Sarah Robbins.

“It was an opportunity to share and my husband’s not always comfortable sharing. The volunteers were kind and concerned and very understanding,” she said. “They took the time to find a pet that would not only get along with our family, but would be a perfect fit.”

Yankee Boy continues to be a great match in his new home.

“I think the main thing about this little guy that helps our family is he’s not afraid when one of us feels sad. He comes closer, licks a hand, cuddles in and looks up with puppy dog eyes that are so sincere, you can’t possibly feel sorry for yourself,” Sarah Robbins said.

With over 8 million dogs and cats entering the shelter system each year, and 22.7 million American veterans as potential adopters, Pets to Patriots makes a lot of sense, as Kyle Harris, senior volunteer for Castaic Shelter, said.

“It’s one of the best programs around. It helps our veterans and it helps the animals. It helped Yankee Boy get adopted, and he was in the shelter for a long time. There are just so many brown Chihuahuas,” Harris said. “Yankee Boy is the sweetest little dog and he’s so happy now that he’s found the right home.”

For more information on Pets to Patriots, visit Castaic Animal Shelter is honoring the free Pets to Patriots adoption program through Dec. 31 and is located at 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road, Castaic. (661) 257-3191.


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