Veterans give last chance pets new lease on life

Pat and Shirley family photo

Since the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, many charitable organizations have launched to help returning veterans adjust to their post-deployment lives. We salute any group that’s dedicated to our men and women in service, and agree that veterans coming home from these conflicts warrant our full support.

In fact, every one of our nearly 23 million veterans is equally deserving of our nation’s gratitude, yet some find themselves forgotten. No parades, no special programs, no new treatments for old wounds. We hear this most from Vietnam era veterans, many of whom continue to feel stigmatized by the public’s decades-old hostility to the Vietnam War.

Pat and Shirley family photo

Somewhere in San Diego are two veterans, a husband and wife: he served during a deeply unpopular war, and she during a war that few people even think about today. They both left the armed forces as Army Majors after years of valiant service.

Late in 2010, Patrick and Shirley found their lives torn apart by the deaths of their two senior dogs. When Shirley first heard about Pets for Patriots, she assumed it was like many other veterans’ programs: only for those returning from Afghanistan or Iraq. Everything changed once Shirley learned that she and Patrick were eligible to apply for our charitable program and receive all of its benefits.

Having just lost two dogs, Patrick and Shirley felt a huge void in their lives. Even in their grief – or maybe because of it – they were eager to open their homes and hearts once more.  Upon being approved to our program, they marched right over to our nearest participating shelter.

Bridgett was honorably adopted through our partner, the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, while little Papi was rescued from a shelter unaffiliated with our charity. Both quickly made their places in their new, forever home.

Bridgett and Papi, who together probably weigh no more than 20 pounds, have brought big changes to this Army household. The entire family now goes on regular evening walks, and the love and energy of these two little dogs has boosted their owners’ emotional and physical health. Neither would care where Patrick or Shirley served, or whether their service received its proper due. To these second chance pets, Patrick and Shirley are heroes.

At Pets for Patriots, we welcome veterans from all armed forces and at any stage of their military careers. We have veterans and service members in our program from virtually every era and conflict, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to and including World War II. They all have one thing in common: the need for the indescribable love that only a pet saved from near-certain death can deliver.



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Because a shelter is not a home

Long-term shelter pets available for adoption