Lawmakers Raise Cash to Connect Military Members with Homeless Pets

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

It was only six months ago that Sen. John Boozman took the Senate seat from Blanche Lincoln, but the former congressman says he knows what it feels like to be replaced.

Several years ago, Boozman recounts, he returned to Arkansas after a break in legislative work in the U.S. House. As he prepared for bed next to his wife, Cathy, who he hadn't seen in two weeks, he noticed alongside her was his daughter's new dog. Boozman asked his wife, a previously avowed non-dog person, where the animal had been sleeping while he'd been away.

Well, that's the thing, he says she replied, the dog's a little ticked you're in its place.

The tale Boozman repeated Wednesday evening on Capitol Hill earned laughs from the dedicated dog lovers who had brought their best buddies to the inaugural celebration of Pets for Patriots, an organization that helps returning military members find forever companions.

Boozman says the work of Pets for Patriots is fundamental to helping transitioning service men and women, particularly those who may be suffering after combat or other trauma. He told that having a four-legged friend can improve an individual's overall outlook and be a critical aide in recovery.

And the animals make out pretty well too.

Pets for Patriots works with organizations like the Washington Humane Society -- also in attendance Wednesday night to show some available shelter pets -- to facilitate adoptions for at-risk, special needs or adult pets. The group notes that older dogs and cats left in shelters often are forsaken for puppies and kittens, and often are stressed out and in need of a stable home.

To attract military members to older animals, the group teams with shelters and other sponsors to provide discounts on adoption costs, veterinary care and other expenses associated with acquiring a grateful mutt. Bringing the military-pet complex full circle, top sponsors of the charitable group include defense contractors like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin.

Boozman wasn't the only lawmaker in the crowd Wednesday. Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., whose former aide Letitia White founded the group, arrived at the event along with his pooch.

White noted that the organization is not partisan either. The honorary host committee boasted dozens of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Reps. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., and Ken Calvert, R-Calif., addressed the crowd while Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., joined Wednesday's kickoff event.