Give a U.S. Vet a Service Dog by 'Liking' a Facebook Page
06/14/2011 AT 07:45 AM EDT
Multiply that by five thousand, and one U.S. military veteran suffering from the effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome gets a huge jolt of support – in the form of a service and companion dog.
How does it work? Explore.org, the philanthropic multimedia arm of the Annenberg Foundation, has launched Dog Bless USA, a project that hopes to bring 100 dogs to 100 veterans. Inspired by the reach of social media, founder Charles Annenberg started the campaign, which promises one service dog for every 5,000 new "likes" on its Facebook page.
The project, which began on Memorial Day this year, has already received enough likes for eight service dogs.
"I'm not asking for money," Annenberg tells PEOPLE Pets. "I think your time is more valuable. It's about bringing people together, and hopefully, spreading a little patriotism."
In partnership with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Explore.org will donate money to five different organizations that will help make the matches. They include Freedom Service Dogs, P2V, Soldier's Best Friend and Pets for Vets.
So far, the response has blown Annenberg away. A documentarian and filmmaker, he says that the enormously positive public response to Dog Bless USA has surprised him.
"A dog is a symbol of unconditional love," he says. "It's incredible. I've done all this stuff in my life, and who knew? It all boils down to a dog. It's kind of scrambled my eggs. It's been really beautiful."