For more than 50 years, the NFL has worked with the USO to thank veterans for their service. On Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills continued that tradition at the SPCA Serving Erie County.

Several Bills players spent the evening with area veterans as part of NFL’s Salute to Service campaign.

“We care about the same things everyone else does – about our community, about the people who serve us – and anytime we have the ability or opportunity to give back with the Bills organization, we want to be able to do that,” said Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander.

The SPCA’s Paws & Patriots program is another way to honor those who come back after fighting for our freedom. It allows vets to spend one-on-one time with animals waiting to be adopted.

Chief Communications Officer for the SPCA Serving Erie County, Gina Lattuca, said this is the second year in a row the Bills have chosen the SPCA as their Salute to Service charity.

“It’s wonderful to see this team get together and make it, personal,” Lattuca told News 4. “It’s not a job, it’s not just business. We had the players come here because it means something personal to them, and it’s heartwarming to see.”

Bills Kicker Stephen Hauschka and his wife Lindsey say it was this exact event last year when they really connected with the SPCA. Now, they not only donate their money to the organization but also their time.

“We decided this season to start a program called Hauschpups, so every home game when Steve makes a field goal we pay the adoption fee for a dog that’s here at the SPCA,” Lindsey explained. “It’s been really great. We’ve had six dogs adopted so far.”

Both Bills players and SPCA organizers say it’s events like this that bring everyone closer together.