Fate bonds grieving retired Army veteran and cat surrendered to animal shelter

Fate bonds grief-stricken retired Army veteran and cat surrendered to animal shelter
Life during wartime

Evangeline devoted more than two decades in service to our nation. The now retired Army veteran served in both active duty and the Reserves.

“I have been retired from both of my jobs, as a civil service personnel and with the United States Army,” she says.

After her 24-year military career Evangeline settled in San Diego, where she is currently studying visualization and performing arts. Her brother lives in Hawaii and the rest of her family are still in her native Philippines.

Evangeline is used to being far from her loved ones. Like many veterans, she served where and when the Army needed her. She considers her two deployments to Korea as the highlight of her career.

“I served two tours over there because I enjoyed my work with the group of people I served with,” she shares.

Not all of Evangeline’s overseas assignments made for positive memories, however. One particularly harrowing event occurred during her first deployment in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

“We stayed in tents and wore our protective clothing and masks to protect us from all the chemical attacks,” she recalls. “I was with the 129th Evacuation Hospital. Not a pleasant one, and really made us realized after that the value of our lives that will be gone in a second due to the chemical attacks.”

The 129th Evacuation Hospital was based out of San Diego, and activated to support the war in the Persian Gulf. It was disbanded shortly thereafter due to budget cuts ordered by the Pentagon.

Retired Army veteran overcome with grief

Life after military service has been mostly good to Evangeline. She is busy with school and other activities that fill her days.

Until May 2018, that included caring for her beloved dog.

Pet guardians know that a time may come when they may have to lay their dogs or cats to rest humanely. It is a difficult decision, but often the kindest when a cherished pet is suffering due to injury, incurable illness, or advanced age.

Fate bonds grief-stricken retired Army veteran and cat surrendered to animal shelter

“When I put down my first dog, it made me so sad, and realized I needed a companion,” Evangeline says.

The career veteran decided she would adopt – and not shop – to find her new best friend. She was eager to fill the void created by her dog’s death.

Making pet adoption easy and affordable

Evangeline started her search online; she was still grieving, but ached for the comfort of a companion pet. It was there she found out about Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for military veterans.

The veteran was pleasantly surprised at how easy we make the entire process from application to adoption.

“I wasn’t disappointed and was very happy as how smooth things went with the adoption process,” she says, later adding, “not to mention all the other incentives that this program offered, it’s such a great blessing to adopt through you guys.”

Lifetime costs of pet guardianship are one of the main reasons animals are surrendered to shelters, and a key reason many people do not consider adopting at all.

Knowing this, we offer a range of benefits to help make adopting a dog or cat more affordable for our nation’s heroes.

A fated union

It was June of 2018 when the retired Army veteran visited the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA. Since 2014, all three of their San Diego County campuses have worked with us to help the more overlooked dogs and cats in their care find loving homes. The shelter waives pet adoption fees for veterans in our program.

Arya was a then two-and-a-half year-old tortoiseshell cat. In a twist of fate, she had been surrendered by her previous family in May – the very same month that Evangeline said goodbye to her beloved dog.

Fate bonds grief-stricken retired Army veteran and cat surrendered to animal shelter

So person and pet were each grieving a profound loss when they met. Perhaps this is why the pair adjusted to their new lives together so seamlessly.

“It didn’t take her long to adopt to her new place,” Evangeline says. “Felt so at home easily as she explored my place. Owned her spot beside me on my bed.”

“…a blessing…”

It did not take long for Arya to mold her savior, either. The retired Army veteran confesses that she often bends to the whims of her new feline friend.

“She got me trained and I got her trained in ways about her feeding time, drinking time, play time, etc.,” Evangeline shares. “She loves to drink fresh flowing water from the faucet. Not from her drinking bowl – no – fresh from the faucet.”

Arya’s kennel card at the shelter described her as “happy-go-lucky, carefree, engaging, adaptive, and cheerful.” And so far she fits the bill.

“Arya has been such a great pet, very loving and just what I needed,” Evangeline says. “Bonded well and so at home.”

Still, the retired Army veteran confides that her newest charge is nothing short of “spoiled.” And she would not have it any other way. Making a few small sacrifices or modifying some daily routines are small prices to pay for the unconditional love of a rescued animal.

“She has changed my life in so many ways,” Evangeline says. “Being there always is a blessing to have at least a pet to come home to, and a great companion.”


  1. Mary Eaton

    Thank you for your many years of service Evangeline. Arya is a lovely young lady and her personality fits you like a glove. May you have many pleasant years of each other’s company. And thanks as well too San Diego Humane Society and ASPCA for their generosity in waiving the fees. Four legged fur balls, both dogs and cats, are heart warming to come home to.

  2. Christine E

    Beautiful kitty, and I am so happy for both of you. Adorable that Arya insists on fresh tap water! Wishing the two of you many wonderful years together.

  3. Candis Stern

    Cats are my favorite pet. They can be wonderful companions and are less needy than dogs. I’m so glad you found this cat who needed a home and filled the hole in your life left after your dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Congratulations on a wonderful choice!

  4. John A. Smaldone


    Arya looks like she filled a major void in your life. Your story is a great one and hopefully many will see it. Thank you very much for your service to our country as well. I wish the both of you only the best of luck and a long lasting bonding relationship.

    John A. Smaldone
    US Air Force Veteran

  5. Gary Gonzalez

    Great story…. So happy for Evangeline & Arya…. May they both live a long and fruitful life together : )

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