Active duty airman learns love comes low cost at animal shelters

Active duty airman learns love comes low cost at animal shelters

Austin is an active duty airman who planned to purchase a dog for his family, but was suspicious of pet sale scams. He soon learned that an animal shelter is the place to find a loyal, loving companion – at a bargain.

On guard

Austin has served a variety of roles since joining the Air Force in February 2020. While deployed with the 35th Security Forces Squadron at the Misawa Air Base in Japan he worked as entry controller, patrolman, and alarm monitor.

Now stateside, his role has changed yet again.

Today Austin is stationed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. He works as a protective services team member with the 816th Security Forces Squadron. The job involves escorting high ranking distinguished visitors in all their movements on base.Active duty airman learns love comes low cost at animal shelters

The active duty airman already has a treasured memory from his service despite being in the early years of his military career.

“Getting hired as one of the LEOSA program managers,” he says, “which entails me routing packages up to my chain of command to get members approved and receive [their] LEOSA’s.”

LEOSA is the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act. It enables Diplomatic Security Services officers who are retired, separating, or separated from service to carry a concealed weapon in all 50 states, with some limitations.

The best way to find a friend

In February 2023 Austin and his family started their search for a dog. Initially they planned to purchase one, but could not find any trustworthy sellers.

“Everywhere we went was a scammer,” Austin explains, “so we decided to go to the pound and that’s where we found Divinity.”

The Air Force veteran was wise to be suspicious of pets for sale.

According to a Better Business Bureau report pet sale scams made up more than 18 percent of all online purchase fraud in 2022. Even as the number of such cases declined, the dollars lost climbed to an average of $850 per incident.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends searching for a pet at a local animal shelter to avoid the financial loss altogether – and save a life.

Choosing adoption

Austin was soon discouraged from purchasing a pet.  So the active duty airman put his faith in Prince George’s County Animal Services Division. Active duty airman learns love comes low cost at animal shelters

The Air Force veteran’s trust in this municipal shelter is well deserved.

Since 2013 Prince George’s County Animal Services Division has made more than 165 adoptions through our partnership and waives adoption fees for veterans in our program.

The shelter not only facilitates adoptions, but is dedicated to vulnerable animals in their community. It respond to calls about sick and injured animals, and investigates cruelty complaints as well.

Staff told Austin about our partnership and all of the benefits offered. The veteran would have received none of this support had he purchased a pet instead of adopting one.

A higher purpose

It was at the shelter that Austin met then two year-old Cylea. She is a beautiful German Shepherd mix who, as a young adult dog, would be a wonderful fit for his household.

Just days after being approved into our program the active duty airman gave Cylea her wings of freedom. She was aptly renamed Divinity.

Austin appreciates that adopting Divinity serves a greater mission.

There are the economic benefits of adopting through Pets for Patriots to help make pet guardianship more affordable.

However, no less important is that Austin became part of a larger community. In choosing adoption, he joined our pack of like-minded individuals who share a passion to create bonds between people and their pets.

“It’s a nice community of helpful people who share something in common,” he explains, “the love for animals and families.”

The perfect family pet

Austin and his own young family could not be happier with their decision to adopt Divinity.

“Always coming home to a German shepherd is always an adventure,” Austin shares.

For her part, Divinity is flourishing since leaving the shelter. And she brings endless joy and positive energy to her military household.

“Her personality is definitely unique and fits perfect in this family with [her] being so loving and playful,” Austin says.

The active duty airman has noted positive changes in the family’s routines since adopting Divinity. Everyone is getting more exercise. They take her on long-distance walks together, which helps lower their household stress in general.

Austin’s story is a cautionary tale to turn away from purchasing a pet, whether through a breeder, retail pet store, or online. Because when you choose to adopt you walk away with so much more than just extra cash in your pocket.

You become a hero to a pet whose life was spared when you chose to adopt, not shop.

1 Comment

  1. Carolyn J. Miller

    Thank you for serving our country! God bless you for walking away from purchasing a pet and opening your home, heart, and family to Divinity. As a large breed, she may have been passed over for many reasons but you took her home. I have been adopting/rescuing large dogs for almost 30years and their joy, love, and loyalty cannot be assigned a value.

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