(WJBK) - As a thank you to our military, the Michigan Humane Society launched a program earlier this summer that through free adoption connects veterans with companion animals.
Doug Zawierucha of Detroit was of the first vets to adopt a pet through the MHS for Military program.
First his name was Pumpkin. Then it was Private Pumpkin. But then he needed a little flavor. And that's how a 9-year-old playful black and white cat became P-Funk.
P-Funk was surrendered by his senior owner, but thanks to a new program MHS for Military, he has a new loving owner -- former army Corporal Doug Zawierucha.
"I'm at VA all day so I come home he is chilling in the window waiting for me," Doug said.
Doug served in the army from 1983 to 1989, but his work as a cook and back home on the line took a toll on his body. He has had several back surgeries and is now confined to a wheelchair.
But it didn't end there - for a while Doug was homeless. The Michigan Veterans Foundation was able to place him in his Detroit and because of the Michigan Humane Society, Doug has a cat to keep him company.
"He's laid back and all that. He's funny, he's cool. He'll come stretch out there and want to play with you. He's a good cat," Doug said.
Shaun Bailey with the Michigan Humane Society says it's a great match.
"Pumpkin here, especially this time of the year, might have lingered for quite some time but thanks to Doug and his free access to Pumpkin it was a simple decision," he said.
MHS for Military launched mid-June and within a couple weeks veterans adopted more than 20 pets -- any animal of their choice and the fees are waived. The program makes sure those who have served our country never lack the love, compassion and support of a pet.
"It is helping them out especially people like me that I do suffer from depression and all that. So I do believe it is something that will slowly pick up around and you'll see a lot more veterans be happier," Doug said.