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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Veterans Voices: Importance of pets to veterans

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(WYTV) – Back in 1986, feeling a sense of pride from his brother, Scott McCuskey got into the Army along with his sister in the Navy. He never deployed overseas and was medically discharged after a car accident as a sergeant. Even though he says he would have been a lifer, he was taught a lot.

“Responsibility teaches you respect, discipline. Some of the things that we should have already. But they really instill those things in you,” said McCuskey.

After military life, he bounced around to a few different jobs, but he always remembered his love for his pets.

“I don’t ever remember a time in my life that I didn’t have animals in particular, dogs in my life,” said McCuskey.

He was looking for a place 15 years ago to house his pups but it was all kennels. So during the recession, he built the Pet Lodge USA in 2008.

“We were looking for what didn’t exist, so we built it. We’re not a kennel. We don’t use that term…Way different, our guests have four by nine private suites, TVs, overnight attendance that includes day care, playtime, all-inclusive rates,” said McCuskey.

The dogs can’t see each other when they’re in the suites to maximize privacy. As an Army veteran, McCuskey has a good understanding of what pets can do for other veterans, both mental and physical.

“They can alert the veteran of an episode prior to that soldier or that veteran even knowing that it’s happened,” said McCuskey.

He says they are trained to do different things to help the veterans. But while many of these animals are trained, a non-trained one can provide just as much help.

“They don’t have to be official service dogs. They don’t have to be official therapy dogs or official emotional support dogs because you get that anyways,” said McCuskey.

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