About Clarissa


Founder. Executive Director. Certified Animal Trainer. Anthrozoologist. Photographer. Author. Speaker. Adventurer.

Clarissa Black has spent over a decade working as an animal trainer, working with species such as dolphins, elephants, stingrays, turtles, fish, dogs, cats, hedgehogs, and sharks. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Cornell University and a Masters in Anthrozoology from Canisius College, Clarissa has always been fascinated by animal behavior and the power of the human-animal bond.

While working with marine mammals she learned advanced animal training principles that she was then able to apply to man’s and woman’s best friend. While consulting on therapy dog work in the company of America’s Veterans and wounded soldiers, she saw firsthand how important animals can be in recovery. She watched their positive reactions to her own dog, Bear, smiling and joking that they wanted to take him home with them. If one hour a week with Bear made such a difference, how much more of an impact could a Veteran’s own pet make?

She founded Pets for Vets In 2009 as a way to say thank you to our nation’s heroes. The organization brings together two of her greatest passions, helping Veterans and saving animal lives. Clarissa has been featured on CBS, NPR, NBC The Give, All Warrior Network, Shelter Me, CNN, The American Veteran, Huffington Post, People Magazine and more.

Pets for Vets

Changing the lives of Veterans and rescued pets – one lick at a time.

Clarissa Black founded Pets for Vets in 2009 as a way to say thank you to our nation’s heroes. Many brave troops return home with scars – both seen and unseen – that make it difficult to transition back to civilian life. At the same time, millions of wonderful companion animals wait in shelters for a forever home. Pets for Vets is the bridge that brings them together.

When a Veteran is matched with the right pet, both lives change for the better. The Veteran saves the animal and welcomes him/her into a loving home. The pet provides the Veteran with unconditional love and support, easing stress, depression, loneliness and anxiety. Together, they share a Super Bond® that provides them both with a whole new “leash” on life.

Pets for Vets is tailored to the needs, wants and hopes of each of our Veterans. We take the time to listen and find the animal that will bring the most support and comfort. While the majority of our skilled animal companions are dogs, we have also placed cats and even rabbits! We invite any U.S. Veteran who could benefit from having a skilled companion animal and is able to care for a pet to apply.

Super Bond®

Clarissa Black coined and created a unique and meticulous match making and placement process that results in an intense, immediate connection between an adopter and his/her new pet, called the Super Bond®. She has defined Super Bond® as an emotional and chemical connection in which the veteran and dog or cat are so attuned to each other that they can anticipate each other’s needs.

Because of Clarissa’s personal experience with PTSD and years of animal knowledge, she has the ability to recognize what each Veteran needs from his or her companion and is then able to find a match that has the same symbiotic expectations as his/her human.

When a Veteran and his or her animal are matched through the Super Bond® process, the animal is immediately able to offer the comfort and companionship necessary to ease psychological trauma, mitigate loneliness and provide a sense of purpose. The connection is so strong that we have even witnessed animals instinctively performing behaviors they had not been trained to do – such as waking their Veterans from nightmares.

In addition, the positive reinforcement training philosophy she developed encourages the Veteran and his/her pet to work together in a mutually beneficial way based on trust and respect instead of force.

The Inspiration for the Super Bond®

January 10th 2020 this world lost the purest, strongest, kindest, bravest and most magical force.

From the moment I met Bear in Hawaii, I felt an instant connection with him. It was as if he could sense what I was thinking and I quickly learned how he communicated. I learned his every nuance and he mine. It felt as if we were one, dancing with impeccable and intuitive choreography. Bear could sense when I was uncomfortable and put himself in a position to make me feel safe. He would bring me his favorite toy to help ease my P.T.S.D. Bear’s eternal light brought me out of darkness and saved my life on multiple occasions. He has supported, comforted and encouraged me through every major life milestone. It is impossible to put into words the profound effect that Bear has had on my life. He has taught me everything I know about unconditional love, living life to the fullest, healing, and super hero strength. Our connection inspired the Super Bond® and the Pets for Vets program. Eleven years ago when Bear and I were meeting Veterans at a local VA, I realized they could benefit from having their own “Bear” connection. With my training skills and background I knew I could find the right dog for each individual and train that dog specifically for each veteran. Eleven years later, Bear’s legacy is 26 Pets for Vets chapters across the country, over 500 veteran-pet matches and a dog selection protocol to identify a Super Bond® for Veterans.

Bear has made a huge difference in the world. Even though my heart is absolutely crushed, I know that his sprit, light, and magic will never leave me. Not a day will go by that I won’t think of you, your love, our Super Bond, and your magical ability to know exactly what everyone needed, especially me. You are a true legend, you are my heart, you are the best boy, and I will love you forever.

Learn More

C Pink

2018 Trek to the Arctic Ocean

Clarissa Black and her hiking partner, Leigh Swansborough, became the first women to walk to the Arctic Ocean. Click below to read news stories covering their journey.

Learn More

Pink is not a color, it’s a lifestyle.

Camping and hiking in remote destinations has always made Clarissa happy. More recently it has become a form of therapy. After being diagnosed with PTSD, Clarissa knew she needed to take charge of her healing process and decided to return to nature. Spending time off the beaten path allows her to live in the moment, stop thinking, and feel connected. Each step taken on trail is a weight lifted. Nature is nurture. C Pink Adventures marries Clarissa’s penchant for pink, passion for photography and love of nature. Clarissa hopes that her photography and signature pink gear will inspire other women to get back to nature and remind women that we are capable of doing anything.

Clarissa’s next epic journey is a 2000 km journey from Skagway, Alaska to Tuktoyaktuk. Tuk is a western Arctic town of which most people have never heard, much less have seen. This multidisciplinary adventure begins May 30, 2018 and will include backpacking, pack-rafting, and push-cart walking through remote areas similar to what the Klondike Gold Rush Miners followed.

The Next Journey

Hiking the Chilkoot trail, crossing the border into British Columbia, Canada. Paddling 900km along the Yukon River to Dawson City. Push-cart walking 900km to Tuktoyaktuk. All while taking epic photography, embracing the spirit of the land and writing my book.

My goal is to inspire women that we can do anything, while continuing my healing process and writing my story. Please follow my journey, location updates and epic photography on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Track The Journey

Use the map below to track Clarissa's position as she journeys through Alaska and Canada. This map will be frequently updated with her position, so check back throughout her travels.