The Odessa City Council will consider allowing veterans and active duty military service members to adopt pets from animal control for free, waiving fees of up to about $80.
The council is scheduled to vote on waving the fees during their Jan. 9 meeting, and individual council members have already said they support the change.
The idea stems from national programs such as Pets for Vets, a nonprofit that pairs veterans with dogs and cats adopted from rescues and trained as companions, with a goal of providing mental and physical health benefits to the veterans and homes for the animals. City staff said District 1 Councilman Malcolm Hamilton suggested adopting a similar program.
City staff cited the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans and medical studies showing the benefits of pet ownership as support for the program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports ownership of dogs and cats can lead to health benefits such as improved moods, decreased stress and anxiety, and promoting socialization.
The adoption fees are meant to help offset costs of veterinary care for an animal that includes vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and microchipping. Those costs typically amount to more than $110. Odessa Animal Control is overseen by the Odessa Police Department.
“Our biggest issue there is overcrowding, obviously,” Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke said. “And this would be a win-win: You prevent overcrowding and you help the veteran.”