A Pets For Vets Match Story

Chris & Thor

After retiring as a master sergeant following a 20-year career with the Air Force, Chris Stagner spent one year working for the Air Force as a civilian before pursuing a BA in English in order to become a high school teacher. He was looking for a companion to help him manage his PTSD when he reached out to the Ventura County Chapter of Pets for Vets.

The perfect companion for Chris would not only need to learn the good manners and typical behaviors necessary to help with PTSD, he or she also needed to be comfortable being around Chris’ two young children, one of whom is autistic.

At the Simi Valley Shelter, Pets for Vets found Thor, a 2-year-old Boxer mix. Although he was a little fearful and unsure, his trainer worked closely with him to desensitize him to new places and people – especially children. This involved visits to more than 125 different locations, such as stores, restaurants, schools and public events. He also met more than 250 different people and had at least 50 dog-to-dog interactions.

Thor’s trainer made sure that he would fit in seamlessly with his new family by going the extra mile.


“I can’t say enough about what a great program this is,” Chris said. “Not only has Thor become a companion to me, but he has also bonded with our autistic son. I never expected him to react to a pet in the fashion he has, but the love he has for Thor is genuine.”

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