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Saving Both Ends of the Leash

Launched in 2011 as a service to U.S. military heroes, ARF's flagship program transforms rescue dogs into skilled service animals for veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, anxiety, severe depression, and more.

Like trusted battle buddies, ARF's Pets and Vets dogs are invaluable partners for veterans readjusting to civilian life, providing powerful therapeutic and practical benefits. Proven benefits include:

  • Reducing anxiety, panic, depression, and symptoms of PTSD
  • Providing stability and companionship
  • Inspiring sociability
  • Establishing routines and self-care practices

Unlike service dog programs costing thousands of dollars and involving long waitlists, ARF matches veteran-dog teams quickly and at no cost to the veteran.

Shelter to Service Training

Teams complete service training curriculum together in veteran-only classes, collectively deepening their bond while building new skills. Under the guidance of our skilled trainer, also a veteran, dogs learn obedience, public access skills, and perform a minimum of three tasks to help alleviate the veteran's disability. Tasks may include alerting to oncoming panic attacks, interrupting nightmares, and more.

This unique training environment provides veterans with comradery and a supportive class environment, as well as structure and task achievements often missed after leaving the armed services.

Our Service Dogs

ARF's Pets and Vets program places exclusively rescued dogs. Many of these dogs received a second chance after facing an uncertain future in a public shelter.

ARF does not consider breed mix as a factor in selection, and screens dogs for qualities including focus, confidence, calmness, and response to reward-based training. We assess aptitude through evaluation at ARF and for a period in a foster home. Graduating teams are re-certified on an annual basis.

How to Apply

U.S. military veterans seeking a service dog who receive treatment in Contra Costa or Alameda Counties or reside within 30 miles of ARF's campus can contact the Veterans Program Manager to apply.

ARF Pets and Vets Program Network

ARF is ready to partner with ambitious, established nonprofit animal shelters and veteran services organizations to bring this model to other regions of the country.

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ARF is ready to partner with ambitious, established nonprofit animal shelters and veteran services organizations to bring this model to other regions of the country. Please contact the Program Director to inquire about how ARF can support the creation of a Pets and Vets program in your community.

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VA Mobile Veterinary Services

ARF offers free veterinary wellness care and vaccinations to all veterans' pets (dogs or cats) through our mobile clinics held at regional VA Medical Centers near ARF headquarters. Cost of care should never keep veterans from this benefit.

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ARF offers free veterinary wellness care and vaccinations to all veterans' pets (dogs or cats) through our mobile clinics held at regional VA Medical Centers near ARF headquarters. Cost of care should never keep veterans from this benefit. See our latest mobile clinic service schedule.

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Pets and Vets Center

ARF's new 7,893 square foot Pets and Vets Center is currently under construction and will serve as a safe space for veteran-dog teams to gather, learn, train, and socialize with group and simulated home training rooms, program offices, kennels,.

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ARF's new 7,893 square foot Pets and Vets Center is currently under construction and will serve as a safe space for veteran-dog teams to gather, learn, train, and socialize with group and simulated home training rooms, program offices, kennels, gathering space, and more. Read about the Saving Both Ends of the Leash Campaign.

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