NEW VENTURA COUNTY NON PROFIT
MILITARY ANIMAL PROJECT (MAP)
formerly PETS FOR VETS VENTURA COUNTY (PFV VCC)
Military Animal Project (MAP- https://militaryanimalproject.com ) was developed and launched out of the former organization, Pets For Vets Ventura County Chapter (PFV VCC). After 4 years of working with our local veterans, Co-Founders Bob Horrell, Director of Operations and Mardu Lydick, Executive Director, realized that there was a much greater need for Therapy, Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and Service Dogs. MAP has created a unique opportunity to positively impact the lives of many of our local heroes – AT NO COST TO THE VETERAN. This is our way of saying, “Thank you for your service.”
Our therapeutic pet services include;
- Professionally trained Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and Psychiatric Service Dogs. The level to be determined on the recommendation of their therapist/doctor.
- Certified Therapy Dogs to help facilitate Veteran’s in therapy sessions, hospital visits and supporting veteran events
- A Veteran Equine Therapy Program, on a scheduled basis, through an established non profit: Veteran Barn Door Project (https://www.veteranbarndoor.com )
- Emergency pet support services
Whenever possible, MAP works with animal rescue organizations and local shelters, such as Ventura County Animal Services, the Agoura Animal Shelter, and the LA County Department of Animal Care & Control to adopt our dogs. We then train and pair dogs with veterans suffering from PTS(D) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) who could benefit from a professionally trained animal. With a dedicated volunteer team, MAP is changing the lives of animals and veterans, one match at a time. MAP serves the cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Pt. Mugu, Santa Paula, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Ventura and Woodland Hills.
THE MAP PROGRAM
MAP will offer Certified Therapy Dog Services to veterans to support them in therapy sessions, hospital visits and supportive events. The dogs will be tested, certified, registered, and insured with Alliance of Therapy Dogs (https://www.therapydogs.com), a 28 year old national organization.
Currently, Bob Horrell’s dog, Paws, is certified with ATD and has been used in therapy applications. We currently have 2 other dogs along with their owners at MAP that will go through the ATD program to become therapy dogs.
Once the Veteran application is received, it is thoroughly reviewed by the Director of Operations and approval is sought from the veteran’s therapist to ensure he or she is ready to care for a dog. The trainer then meets with the veteran to assess his/her needs and dog preferences. Upon completion of that step, the trainer searches shelters and pet rescues to find the right breed, size, temperament and behavior that would be best suited for the veteran. This part of the process can take a lot of time (as we need to ensure that the dog doesn’t have any existing behavioral, aggression or anxiety issues that need correcting before the training can commence). After the right dog is selected for the veteran, the dog spends time with one of our trainers who teaches the pet basic obedience and other valuable behaviors needed to live with his/her new owner. Our trainers use positive reinforcement techniques to teach the dogs good manners as well as Canine Good Citizenship (CGC). Training also includes behaviors needed to help with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTS(D) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), desensitization to wheelchairs or crutches, and recognizing and reacting to panic or anxiety disorder behaviors, to name a few.
After an extensive training process, (which can last up to 4 months for an Emotional Support Dog) the veteran and dog meet for the first time. Each dog is healthy, up to date on all vaccinations, is spayed/neutered and microchipped. All expenses and out of pocket costs from adoption fees, veterinary care, licensing, microchipping, spay/neuter is paid for by MAP. In addition, MAP provides the veteran with a Welcome Package that includes everything from a collar/leash, bed, crate, toys, treats, grooming items, etc, with a value of nearly $500.
The support doesn’t end after the match. MAP helps veterans find reduced cost veterinary care and equipment. In addition, the trainer provides after-placement support. If the veteran ever has any questions or concerns about their dog, MAP is available to help.
All of our dogs are trained at ESA level. If the veteran requires a Psychiatric Service Dog, training will begin after the ESA dog has been matched with the veteran. At this point, the veteran, ESA dog and trainer will work together to bring the training up to Service Dog level. This training can take up to a year to complete.
Therapy Equine Program
We are an affiliate of the Veteran Barn Door Project (https://www.veteranbarndoor.com ). This project was started by Steven DePalma, a 20 year veteran who found the healing powers of Equine Therapy for his own PTS(D) and TBI. This equine program uses Natural Horsemanship to enable the veteran to identify and address their internal issues of PTS(D)/TBI. This gives the East Coast based VBDP a West Coast presence by hosting/sponsoring the program twice a year at Bob & Linda Horrell’s ranch in Acton, CA. These three day clinics are free to the veterans who are housed and fed at the ranch. The clinics are purposely kept small (4 to 6 veterans) to allow each veteran maximum time with the horses and clinicians. Many healing moments take place with the horses during the day with resultant conversations taking place during the evening meals where veterans and clinicians discuss the events of the day and it’s affect on the veteran’s issues. The veteran’s individual therapists are encouraged to attend as well.
Bob & Linda Horrell have been hosting and sponsoring these clinics for the past two years and their Therapy Dog, Paws, is an important asset during these functions, combining two of the services we offer. Bob also trained a dog (Mia) for Steven, who accompanies him to all his clinics.
MAP will look to expand this program by selecting/approving a suitable ranch in Ventura County to host additional VBDP clinics.
Pet Support Services
Assisting the Military Veteran with various pet needs/support due to physical or financial hardships. Examples of some of the services provided:
- Emergency veterinary care
- Pet relocation costs
- temporary pet fostering/boarding
All services are reviewed on a case by case basis.
If you would like to volunteer, please call or email Mardu Lydick at 805-551-1168 or Mardu@militaryanimalproject.com.
We are a volunteer 501c3 that operates through the generosity of donors throughout our community!
Donations can be mailed to:
Military Animal Project
207 W. Los Angeles Ave, #123
Moorpark, CA 93021