Pets for Vets

Holding a doctorate in psychology from North Carolina State University, Don Crowe, PhD, has served for nearly four decades as a clinical psychologist. An active member of his community, he also donates his time to numerous causes, including the Oakland Diocese of the Catholic Church, where he offers psychotherapy services to individuals who are homeless.

The nonprofit organization Pets for Vets has also been the recipient of Dr. Don Crowe’s philanthropy. Outside of his clinical psychology work, Dr. Crowe has earned licensure as a certified professional photographer with distinction. Utilizing his skills, he created a photographic exhibit of veterans with their companion animals on behalf of Pets for Vets.

In 2013, the San Francisco Bay Area Pets for Vets celebrated 11 years of successful operations. Established by Dr. Russell Lemle, chief psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, Pets for Vets serves veterans solely with donated funds. Since its inception, the program has presented veterans certificates for the adoption of 169 animals.

Pets for Vets helps veterans in ways supported by research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC studies show that pet owners experience measurable health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure and decreased cholesterol levels. Furthermore, on an emotional level, pet guardians tend to see a significant reduction in feelings of loneliness.

Stan Lewandowski, who was the first veteran to receive a Pets for Vets certificate, brought his certificate to the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals and adopted Punkin, an adult female cat. He shopped at a local pet store and exchanged Pets for Vets coupons for his new companion’s litter, litter box, food, toy, and collar. According to Lewandowski, Punkin gave him many years of loving interaction.

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