Art auction to provide healing for vets with PTSD through pets

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

The People’s Advocate of Southwest Louisiana will host its annual The People’s Art Auction fundraiser 6-9 p.m. Sunday at Harlequin Steakhouse, 501 W. College St.

“The main goal of The People’s Advocate is to prevent family violence,” said Beth Zilbert, the group’s executive director.

“There are a number of ways we do that.”

Among the group’s services is the New Leash on Life program, which rescues abandoned or abused dogs. The animals go through

training and end up in the hands of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The animals in a household are part of the cycle of violence too,” Zilbert said. “They can be abused as well as the children

and the partners.”

Rescued dogs begin their journey

through the program at the Juvenile Detention Center, where they are

trained by children

in the system. The dogs then move on to the Open Door Program,

where they are trained by female inmates at the Calcasieu Correctional

Center, Zilbert said.

“Through this program, all along the

way there is healing happening at both ends of the leash,” she said.

“There is work and

rehabilitation going into the dog and the person that is handling

and training the dogs. Everyone along the way who is participating

is learning the gift of selfless love.”

The patriot dogs ultimately find a home with a veteran who is working to overcome PTSD.

“These dogs end up going on to help

these people who have literally put their lives on the line to protect

us,” Zilbert said.

“These therapy dogs help them get back to being able to live the

same life that they put their lives on the line to protect.”

Money raised through the auction also

helps fund legal representation for clients at the Oasis women’s shelter

and help immigrants

who are victims of crime or violence.

“We’re helping people get their lives back together and back on track,” Zilbert said. “This helps get them back to trying

to reach their goals and dreams before they got sidetracked by the violence they became a victim of.”

Zilbert said there is “something for everyone” at the art auction.

Some of the items up for auction include jewelry, paintings, pottery, dog grooming packages, one-of-a-kind artistic pieces,

and commemorative books.

Zilbert said door prizes will be given away every 20-30 minutes.

Tickets are $35 and include hors d’oeuvres.

For more information, call 436-3475 or visit thepeoplesadvocateswla.com.