Dog in shelter for 393 days til Iraq war veteran brings him home

Dog in shelter for 393 days til Iraq war veteran brings him home

An older dog in an Atlanta area shelter for 393 days was showing signs of severe kennel stress. But he found his hero – an Iraq war veteran seeking a companion for her resident senior dog.


Julie lives in Kennesaw, Georgia where the Army veteran works for a large media company. Together with her husband she enjoys the company of dogs.

“We have Remington, who is my service dog,” she says, “He is 11 years old now. I hate that they age so fast!”

For many years Freedom, another family dog, kept Remington company. But in May 2023 Julie and her husband laid Freedom to rest.

“That absolutely broke our hearts, and is the most toughest thing we ever had to do in our lives,” she shares.

In time, the Army veteran found a way to honor her dog’s passing. She would give a dog in the shelter for 393 days the freedom he deserved.

Battle buddies

More than two decades earlier Julie enlisted in the Army. It was a way for her to honor a beloved member of her family.Dog in shelter for 393 days til Iraq war veteran brings him home

“I went into the military for my grandpa who had died before I graduated high school,” she shares.

In 2003 Julie deployed to Iraq during the early stages of the war. It would be her first and last tour of duty to a war zone.

The Army veteran’s most enduring memories are the bonds formed with fellow soldiers.

“Making friends,” she reminisces, “that now 20 years later are my family.”

Homeless 393 days

After Freedom’s passing Julie thought dog daycare would help Remington overcome his grief. But soon after the facility closed its business, leaving the Army veteran back to square one.

“We didn’t want to spend more money to take him elsewhere, so we figured a pal would be better to get for him to be at home with,” she explains.

And so began a search that saved an older dog whose prospects of adoption were growing slimmer with each passing day.

Lifeline to pets in need

Like many would-be adopters Julie started her pet search online, where she found Pets for Patriots. Our companion pet adoption program for military veterans resonated with her.Dog in shelter for 393 days til Iraq war veteran brings him home

A pillar of our program is making pet adoption more affordable for military veterans.

Lifetime costs of pet care deter prospective adopters. They contribute to animal surrender as well.

But Julie would receive a free adoption through one of our shelter partners.

Since 2015, LifeLine at Dekalb County Animal Services waives adoption fees for veterans in our program.

The organization is part of the trio of LifeLine shelters in the Atlanta metro area. All partner with us to place dogs and cats with veterans in their community.

Julie would receive a generous gift card from us as well, in addition to other benefits.

Stressed out

It was March 2024 and Velocity was a seven year-old dog showing signs of severe kennel stress. He started to spin, jump, and lunge at his kennel door.

Kennel stress is a range of behaviors that result from long-term confinement. Studies have shown that it can start in as little as two weeks of sheltering.

Velocity had been at LifeLine at Dekalb County Animal Services for 393 days. That is one year, 28 days. Or 9,432 hours. Too long.

The big, tan-and-white dog’s previous guardian surrendered him to the shelter. It was nearly six years to the day from when Velocity was born. The reason cited was “incompatible energy level.”

Too many people adopt or acquire dogs without researching the animals’ breed or breed mix. They end up unprepared for a dog whose needs they are unable or unwilling to fulfill.

Waiting is the hardest part

Velocity would not be easy to place. After 393 days in the shelter he was already a senior. He was a large dog and many adopters prefer smaller ones. And then there was his poor kennel presentation due to extreme stress.Dog in shelter for 393 days til Iraq war veteran brings him home

But it took only one day after approval into our program that Julie would adopt Velocity. The big dog’s age was actually a plus. He brought new energy into her home, yet was not overbearing for their older, resident dog.

The Army veteran hopes others consider Pets for Patriots when adopting a dog or cat.

“I would tell other vets to adopt through this program because they are just all around helpful,” she says. “Very grateful for Pets for Patriots!”

“…over the moon”

Velocity was not responding to his name, so Julie and her husband gave him a new moniker: Copper.

Despite having spent 393 days in the shelter the big dog is settling in well to his new life. Now that he is free from kennel stress his true personality is emerging.

For Julie, Copper is the perfect mix of active and cuddlesome. He is exactly as his shelter kennel card described him: stressed in the kennel, sweet and curious when he is out.

The affectionate senior dog has become fast family with his canine sibling, too.Dog in shelter for 393 days til Iraq war veteran brings him home

“We feel that Copper has brought the life back out of Remington,” Julie says.

“They bark out the window and walk in the woods together everyday.”

Many people passed by Copper over the course of his 393 days in the shelter. And with each passing day his chances of adoption diminished.

But it took a kind-hearted veteran to see value in this older dog’s life. In return Copper is repaying Julie and her husband with unconditional love.

“Thank y’all so much for helping us find a baby for our loving home,” she says. “We are over the moon with our new bundle of joy!”


  1. Frank Gibbons

    Heart warming!!

  2. Kate

    Great story!

  3. Christine E

    Copper looks like such a sweet boy – and handsome! I’m so glad he fits in well with your family and is a good pal for Remington. Thank you for your Service and for saving sweet Copper’s life.

  4. MJ

    Julie, thank you for adopting Copper and giving him a second chance at a life filled with love.


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