Air Force veteran with a passion for Pit Bulls gives death row dog her wings

Air Force veteran with a passion for Pit Bulls gives death row dog her wings

Autumn was found as a stray and slated for euthanasia. But her life took flight when an Air Force veteran with a passion for Pit Bulls came to her rescue.

“…the perfect storm”

Ty grew up in Ohio where he attended a trade high school and studied computer networking technology. With half of his classes occurring in a lab setting, Ty’s specialized education prepared him for a career in Air Force cyber intelligence.

“I knew for several years that I wanted to join the military, and my grandpa who’s an Army veteran pushed me towards the Air Force,” he shares. “My mom pushed me to the Air Force and that, combined with the potential career opportunities and the fact that I couldn’t afford college at the time, that was the perfect storm.”

It was summer 2015 when Ty enlisted in the Air Force after graduating high school.

The young enlistee was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base – known now as Joint Base San Antonio – as an operations intelligence analyst. These professionals consume volumes of raw data and synthesize it into usable military intelligence.

“A lot of what I did was general intelligence analysis, specifically research, and we would prepare briefs. I did a lot of briefing,” Ty recalls. “I was attached to a cyber unit, so I did cyber intelligence analysis.” 

In 2020 Ty was medically separated from the Air Force after five faithful years of service.

Turbulent times

One of Ty’s most memorable experiences from his time in service was meeting the Chief Master Sargent of the Air Force. 

“It was really cool. I was lower enlisted at the time, so I was very out of my depth surrounded by all the brass.”

Like many veterans, Ty struggled during his transition from military to civilian life. His schooling had not yet begun and he lacked a clear sense of purpose.

“At first it was rough because for the first few months I was out, I didn’t start school, so I was trying to figure out what to do with myself,” he confides.

Working through the Veterans Administration (VA) presented challenges of its own.

The young veteran felt overwhelmed at times by the daunting bureaucracy.

“And dealing with the VA all day, ’cause when you first get out out there’s a lot of appointments you have to go through,” he says. “The first couple months were rough.” 

A passion for Pit Bulls

Ty was no stranger to City of San Antonio Animal Care Services. Years prior he adopted a Pit Bull from that very same shelter who helped ease his eventual transition from military service.

“I had her basically from the time I moved into my first apartment off base. I got her that same week,” he shares, “and then May this past year I had to put her down due to complications of old age.”

What the Air Force veteran did not know at the time is that City of San Antonio Animal Care Services is one of our earliest shelter partners.

The organization offers veterans in our program reduced adoption fees of $50 for dogs and $15 for cats.

As the months passed Ty realized that he missed having a dog. And the young veteran had a particular passion for Pit Bulls.

“…I immediately went back to the shelter website and started looking at dogs on the euthanasia list because there are usually lots of Pit Bulls there,” he explains, “and I love Pit Bulls.”

Rescue me

Shelters use special lists to promote pets at risk for euthanasia due to capacity limits. City of San Antonio Animal Care Services shares such pets in a section of their website dedicated to animals who are at urgent risk of death.

No animal welfare organization wants to put adoptable dogs and cats to death.

However, various state, county, and local municipalities enforce health and safety laws that govern a shelter’s maximum capacity. This is true in every community in the nation.

When a shelter is full, animals face grim fates unless more people foster or adopt, or relocation plans are available.

Typically these dogs and cats are perceived as less desirable by the public due to breed, age, or health. But often they are animals who simply have no one to adopt them.

Ty has always been an advocate of adopting shelter animals, not buying them from pet stores or breeders.

“I just don’t think they get a fair shot, especially Pit Bulls,” he says.

Another chance for a last-chance dog

It was early fall 2022 when Susi was rescued by City of San Antonio Animal Services. The stray dog had heartworms and appears to have had at least one litter. It is likely that she was used for breeding and then abandoned.

Susi was estimated to be three years old, but time was not on her side. Due to capacity issues she was placed on the shelter’s list of dogs who are in danger of death.

Ty visited the shelter to meet a different dog who was not compatible with his roommates’ dogs.

But the Air Force veteran with a passion for Pit Bulls was about to have a turn of luck. The shelter’s trainer told him that they had another dog who may be a good fit for Ty and his multi-dog household: Susi.

“She was just a skinny little ragtag Pit Bull whose ribs were sticking out of her skin,” he recalls.

Despite the hardships she endured Susi – since renamed Autumn – chose her savior. Ty knew that she was the dog for him when she leaned into him as though to claim him as her own.

“Oh, because she did something that my old dog used to do,” he recalls of their first meeting, “which was just to fall into me and let all her body weight collapse into my leg.”

So on the first day of October aptly renamed Autumn earned her wings.

“She has a life”

Autumn went from being a dog at urgent risk of death to leading a life that is the envy of any dog. She is now at a healthy weight, is heartworm free, and enjoys playing with the other two dogs in her new home.

And then there is Autumn’s whimsical side. This – and her underbite – are perhaps what Ty loves most about her.

“Because she will just lick your face sometimes,” he explains, “and because of her underbite her teeth will get caught on your nose.”

Got your six

Ty learned about Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for military veterans through City of San Antonio Animal Care Services’ website. He was already familiar with the shelter, having adopted his previous dog there. In addition, he volunteered at the shelter when he was active duty.

However, Ty had not heard about Pets for Patriots prior to Autumn’s adoption. He hopes that more veterans in the community learn about us and choose to adopt through the city shelter, too.

The Air Force veteran not only appreciates the benefits we offer, but our mission and follow through as well.

“I mean, I’ve had emails out of the blue just checking up on me, asking how I’m doing,” he says. “It’s just a really good program overall.”

Our team will continue to follow up with Ty and Autumn for at least a year to help ensure a successful, permanent adoption. And we will be here for him for the months and years to follow.

There is little doubt that Ty found his perfect match in Autumn when he spared her from the grimmest possible fate. And she now lives a life that almost did not happen, thanks to a veteran with a passion for Pit Bulls.

Ty reflects on Autumn’s radical change of fate.

“Well, I hope she has a good life now,” he says. “She has a life.”

And after the passing of his previous dog, Ty got something back that he had been missing for too long: an always-there friend.

“I have a buddy to go with me everywhere now.”


  1. Lois Smith

    Thank you for saving Autumn’s life. You are truly a hero. Many happy years to you both.

  2. Alyson A.

    Thank you for your service, Ty. I loved reading about you and Autumn – you are so compassionate, rescuing her and she has turned out to be a perfect companion. Bless you both!

  3. Lisa Layman

    Thank you Ty for your service sir! I also want to thank you for giving a Pitt Bull a chance! They can be wonderful dogs! I rescued one from our shelter 6 years ago and I wouldn’t take a million dollars for him! I hope you and Autumn have many years together!

  4. Christine E

    Ty, Thank you so much for sharing your story and for saving Autumn. I love “leaners” too. I didn’t know that some shelters had “euthanasia lists” on their websites. That’s definitely something I will check when I am next able to adopt. Thank you for your Service, and I’m glad Autumn is easing your transition to civilian life.

  5. Alexandra Chappell

    Loved your story about Autumn who serms to be a sweet dog and wonderful companion for you! Thank you for saving her! I wish you both a long and happy life together!

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