Disabled Army veteran gives chronically homeless dog his freedom

Disabled Army veteran gives chronically homeless dog his freedom

Our veterans serve for many reasons, chief among them the defense of our liberties. For William, this battle is personal. And it extends beyond his fellow citizens to include a chronically homeless dog who was longing for a chance to be free.

The coming storm

In 1990, William enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri. Shortly after being assigned there Operation Desert Storm began. He noticed a change in the tempo of daily life on base.

“Needless to say, training intensified,” he says.

After about 18 months William transferred to the Ohio Army National Guard, from which he separated in 1994 with an honorable discharge. His Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS, was 63 W Heavy Wheel Vehicle Repair. This critical role is responsible for a wide range of repair and support to a variety of wheeled military assets.

“I worked on everything from generators to five-ton trucks,” William says. “Though I was Heavy Wheel Vehicle, I did work on a track vehicle and even worked on a 20,000-pound forklift. Mechanic of all trades, as it were.”

William has always been motivated by a need to excel and to continuously better himself. This drive led to one of his more precious memories from his time in service.

“The last time I qualified with my M-16 I shot a perfect score, 40/40, and walked away with the top score in my unit. I was always a good shot growing up skeet- and trap-shooting, winning trophies, and turkey shoots winning several prizes,” he explains. “I needed to succeed and I did. This stayed with me in life, which makes it so hard now.”

William’s Army days are long over and in some ways offer fond memories of a time when he was able to do more.

“Right now I am just trying to live day by day,” he shares. “Due to injuries I am unable to work, which is hard for me to deal with.”

For the love of dog

Despite his injuries, William tries to stay positive and look ahead. Family is everything to him.

“My daughter is pregnant and I will soon be a grandfather,” he says. “She is having a girl so should be an adventure having a granddaughter.”

Still, life is not the same as it once had been and William found himself downtrodden. His counselor nurtured an idea the Army veteran had long pondered: adopting a dog.

“I have always wanted to have a dog. I grew up with dogs in the family,” he says. “But as life has kicked me hard lately my therapist thought it would be good for me to have a companion animal.”

William started his search online, the way many people do. That is when he discovered Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for United States military veterans.

“I found Pets for Patriots who made this come true.”

Things were starting to fall into place for the disabled veteran. Life was about to change for the better.

Miller finds his hero

William lives in a town with a population of less than 3,000 people. Fortunately, our program is available in communities across the country – whether urban, suburban or rural.

Geauga Humane Society Rescue Village joined our free shelter partner program in 2012. The organization offers a 25% adoption fee discount and ‘day one’ essentials to veterans who adopt program-eligible dogs and cats through our partnership.

In the shelter’s care was a senior dog who had spent much of his life homeless. His life was about to change for the better, too.

Miller was eight years, two months and 23 days old when the chronically homeless dog was finally adopted. William is his hero.

“Miller, my dog, is my buddy,” the Army veteran says. “He helps me as much as I do him. He has spent most of his life in a shelter, which is no way to live.”

Chronically homeless dog is Army veteran’s new mission

William’s new buddy Miller is his world. The veteran feels strongly about having given the older dog something that he believes everyone deserves. Disabled Army veteran gives chronically homeless dog his freedom

“We serve for many reasons and freedom is something we cherish. I feel dogs deserve this too,” he explains. “Miller now knows what it is to belong to a family and be free and not stuck in a cage. In the Army we depended on each other and these animals depend on us.”

Ever loyal, the Army veteran vows to give Miller the love and liberty that the senior dog was denied for too many years. He credits our nonprofit for helping to make it all happen.

“Pets for Patriots made it possible for me to adopt my dog,” William says. “The support and help I received was necessary for me to be able to get my dog. They are the perfect organization and I can never thank them enough for what they did for me.”

For his part, Miller not only has his freedom; he has the enduring love of his veteran. This once chronically homeless dog seems to know that he is finally home with William.

“I love that he is my dog, that he has a sense of protection toward me,” the Army veteran shares. “He is older, but plays like a pup. He is always happy to see me.”

Lean on me

Like many veterans, William has been through some difficult times. He believes the sense of duty that military personnel have towards one another is a reason other veterans should think about adopting a companion pet.

“What I would say to all my brothers and sisters who have served, if you are thinking about adopting through Pets for Patriots I say do it. It really is good for you and will help. We relied on each other while serving, we were able to count on each other,” he says. “Well that is what you will find with your new pet and with this organization. Trust me I know, I have been through it, it can get tough, be rough. This organization will be there for you all the way as will your pet.”

We provide a range of benefits to make pet guardianship more affordable for veterans and follow up with our adoptees for at least one year. But it is the companion pets themselves who are the real saviors to the people who adopt them.

William knows this firsthand.

“My dog has giving me emotional support, he gets me up and moving no matter the pain. He loves me no matter what and I have a sense of duty again,” he says. “[It] may sound strange to you, but it is something I need. He is always there for me.”



  1. Mary Eaton

    What a perfect match. Thank you for saving Miller and giving him his forever home. A new chapter in both your lives. May you have many years of pure joy both under your roof and on some walking adventures together. I’m with Catherine, you’ve filled my heart today.
    Thank you as well for your service in the army and national guard.
    Caitlin thank you for your message above and working as you do in a shelter with so many tugging heart strings.

  2. Alyson

    Thank you for your service – I’m so glad that you and Miller found each other. Miller is so lucky to have such a wonderful family!

  3. Gail

    Thanx William for telling your story. And of course, thank you for your service. I can vouch for everything you have said here, because pets for Patriots is a wonderful organization. I have many of the same experiences with my emotional support animal that you have. She wakes me up in the morning and gives me a sense of Duty because of it. I truly feel that having”Sweetie” in my life has actually been a lifesaver for me.
    Pets for Patriots has been wonderful in directing me towards the adoption centers and toward veterinarians who participate with them to help take good care of our animals’ health. It’s not always easy to find a vet who cares well for the animals. Pets for Patriots provides a meaningful and most necessary service to US veterans, especially those with needs for emotional support and companionship in our older days. William, I’m sure you and all the other many veterans and animals that Pets for Patriots has helped over the years are with me when I say,

    ” Pets for Patriots, thank you for your service!”

    Gail Young
    Detroit Mi

  4. Panda J

    Thank you, William, for your service, first and foremost. And a huge thank you for giving Miller a forever home, after all he’s been through. You said it well, a shelter is not a home. I hope you and Miller and all of your family will be blessed with a long, happy life together. Congrats on your upcoming granddaughter…I know Miller will be her protector, too! God Bless all of you.


    Thank you for filling my heart this morning.
    The sharing of William’s military story that ends up with him being differently abled which then manifests his loneliness and lack of being able to work, into an adoption of a senior dog, Miller. I’m full of gratitude to William first for his loyalty in serving our country! Next, for not choosing to take home a puppy, but instead for adopting a senior dog who’d spent the main amount of his life behind bars. Now these two ‘men’ are free of the lack of duty, as they have each other to care for and love.
    I’m overwhelmed with comfort now in my heart and a smile stuck on my face, to get differently-abled ME on track for the remainder of this day. With Gratitude!! CATherine

  6. Lois

    Beautiful story! Thank you william for your service and thank you for giving Miller his forever home. We just adopted a beautiful soul. We are his fifth and final home. There is nothing better than the love of a dog. I wish you and Miller a wonderful life together. Going to make a donation to pets for Pstriots in honor of you and Miler. Blessings to you both!

  7. Caitlin

    I work at Rescue Village. I remember when this guy went home. You could see he didn’t really understand why all the staff was smiling at him that day. I’m so happy he has found someone to love him as much as we did.

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