Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) recently introduced Senate Bill 245 which calls on animal shelters throughout the state to waive pet adoption fees for military veterans. California is home to 2 million military veterans, including many who struggle to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and could benefit from an animal companion.
“As the saying goes, a dog is a ‘man’s best friend.’ My four-legged companions are a part of my family and bring me joy and laughter when I’m home. Our brave veterans deserve the same happiness,” said Senator Chang. “This bill reduces the barriers to adopting an animal from the local shelter, bringing together veterans seeking companion animals and pets in need of a home.”
A 2018 Purdue University study showed that veterans with PTSD who had an animal companion displayed lower levels of depression, lower levels of social isolation, and overall greater satisfaction with life.
“Companion animals improve the quality of life for service members, especially for veterans experiencing challenges related to their service,” said Chuck Helget, Executive Director of California Association of Veterans Service Agencies, a leader in veteran advocacy. “California is home to the largest veteran population in the nation and we need to ease access to resources –such as companion animals – that help veterans transition to civilian life.”
Under SB 245, the process for confirming an eligible veteran by a shelter would be streamlined by using the state’s existing “VETERAN” driver’s license designation.
Since Senator Chang’s tenure, she has advocated on behalf of veterans and shelter animals. She co-authored Assembly Bill 427 which would exempt military retirement pay from state income tax for veterans who are residents in California, and introduced Senate Bill 64 which would require a microchip be implanted in all dogs and cats at an animal shelter before they are released. SB 64 has earned bipartisan support.