Disabled Navy veteran throws lifeline to adult shelter dog

Disabled Navy veteran throws lifeline to adult shelter dog
Serving with heart

Angel is a disabled Navy veteran who admits that if not for his disability, he would still be serving our country. Instead he embraces the positive in life by focusing on his young family, which now includes an adopted adult dog who just “needs love.”

Now living in Tampa with his wife and sons, Angel started his military career with the Seabees in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The motto of the United States Naval construction force is simply, “We build, we fight.” Angel moved up the ranks from an E1 to an E4 Gunners Mate – 3rd Class before receiving orders to the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland. There he was promoted to a Petty Officer – 2nd Class attached to the military police.

“I did seven years and seven months,” Angel says. “Love the military life. If I could get back I would do it with [all] my heart.”

Disabled Navy veteran throws lifeline to adult shelter dog

The Navy veteran had many memorable experiences during his tours of duty, including his deployments to Africa, Greece, Cuba and Haiti. It was the latter that caused Angel to reflect most “about life, family and my life,” when he was among those deployed to provide earthquake relief and humanitarian aid to that devastated country. It was the plight of the youngest victims that touched this devoted father and family man the most.

“I made some friends, but the thing that really left that mark in my heart was the kids,” he says.

Disabled Navy veteran says “all they need is love”

After his tours of duty and Honorable discharge, Angel refocused on his own young family by deciding to add a new member: a shelter dog.

“I choose to adopt a pet to brig some extra fun to our life and family,” he shares. “someone who could play with my kids and someone who could show love to them.”

Angel visited the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, which is both a Pets for Patriots adoption and veterinary partner. The organization waives pet adoption fees for our members who adopt an eligible dog or cat, and extends an ongoing 10% discount at its full service veterinary hospital. There he met a five year-old Shepherd mix who had been surrendered by his previous owner. The dog – named Sammy at the time – caught Angel’s eye immediately.

“I choose to adopt through Pets for Patriots because this way I was able to get a pet that that needs love, something that we have,” he says. “I can’t think about the people who charged so much money [for a pet] when all they need is love.”

With Sammy’s new life came a new name – Debow – and an instant, adoring family.

Love to the rescue

While some adopted pets take weeks or months to adapt to their new lives, Debow settled in rather quickly – earning such praises from Angel as “awesome and amazing.” But it is not only the disabled Navy veteran whose world has changed; his sons’ lives have been transformed as well.

Disabled Navy veteran throws lifeline to adult shelter dog

“Debow has brought so many laughs to our family,” says Angel, “He has changed the way my kids wake up in the morning, and the way that he receives us when we come home is so amazing, how much love he has for us.”

A big part of companion pet adoption is not only receiving love, but giving it as well. Each night Debow makes his way into Angel’s room for a kiss or pat on the head.

“Yes indeed,  he needs love,” the Navy veteran says. “Sometimes he just comes to us just to get some love and attention.”

Angel is so thrilled with his Pets for Patriots adoption that he urges other veterans to seek out our program in their communities, saying that veterans who adopt a companion pet through our charity “won’t be disappointed.” In the meantime, he is no less than thrilled at the new sense of togetherness that Debow has brought to his already tight-knit family.

“What I love about my new pet friend,” he says, “is how happy he makes us feel everyday. He has changed my whole family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”



  1. Paul Evans

    Good for you and your family shipmate, I am glad to see how you have made such a difference in your kind and wonderful ways. Proud of you Angel.

  2. George Ferrier

    I am an Army Veteran and I adopted a dog Bobby-Eagle a bichone poodle mix and he’s helped my PTSD and blood pressure and he monitors my wife’s sleep apnea we had him three years and we also see changes in him he’s more trusting and loyal able to walk u leashed and for a 12 year old he’s more Playful so enjoy and grow together

  3. gail

    I’ve adopted from Michigan Humane Society this year. I know of the wonderful changes you’re experiencing. my life has changed so much sharing my love with a dog (sweetie) who needed me as much as I needed her.
    happy days ahead with Debow!

  4. VAe LLC

    Thank you Pets for Patriots for all that you do for our veterans!

  5. MaryLou Lindsey

    Being a disabled vet myself I am on the list locally to adopt a Pet for Patriots. Since I lost my companion of almost 17 years, (my jack Russell), I am ready to share my love again and that would make me very happy! …..Marylou…..

  6. mary

    Thank you for your service and sharing your story. Unconditional love, one of God’s gifts, a dog can bring it on.
    Happiness to you and your family.

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