Navy veteran falls overboard for homeless Pit Bull’s winning smile

Navy veteran falls overboard for homeless Pit Bull's winning smile

Cody went to a Florida shelter hoping to adopt a cat. But a Pit Bull’s winning smile won his heart and a place in the Navy veteran’s home.

Navy life

Cody was lured from the sunny climes of Florida to Farmington, New Hampshire by a great job offer. The young Navy veteran is accustomed to rolling with whatever opportunities life throws his way.

During his tours of duty Cody served aboard the USS Bataan and spent time stationed at the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida.

Since 1940, the installation’s mission is ensuring that Navy aircraft are prepared for assignment. This includes fighter, attack, patrol, antisubmarine, and reconnaissance planes, as well as helicopters and other aircraft.

“I was an aviation machinist mate working on T700 and T56 engines,” Cody says. “I did two deployments with the USS Bataan LHD-5.”

The USS Bataan is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Cody was tasked with the responsibility to maintain and repair a broad range of naval aircraft and ensure their readiness for flight.

The young veteran’s work was gratifying. But is is the enduring relationships he formed that continue to enrich his life long after separating from service.

“The best experience was meeting my friends on the Bataan. We formed some strong relationships and keep in contact to this day,” he says. “Some of the best people I’ve ever met, and I’ve been lucky enough to be a best man and ‘uncle’ to some of their children.”

A homeless Pit Bull’s winning smile

In 2015 Cody was living in Virginia and ready to welcome a dog into his life. He visited a Portsmouth shelter, where he met a Beagle-Mountain Feist mix named Duncan.

Navy veteran falls overboard for homeless Pit Bull's winning smile

About a year later the Navy veteran decided that Duncan needed a companion of his own. However, Cody would learn that it was he who needed his next pet even more.

It was 2016 and Pete was a two year-old, heartworm positive dog in the care of our partners Jacksonville Humane Society.

Since 2011, the shelter has offered veterans in our program a steeply reduced adoption fee of $20 when they adopt program-eligible dogs and cats.

Pete had an upbeat disposition despite having been at the shelter for nearly two months and undergoing medical treatment. The Pit Bull’s winning smile won over Cody when he visited the shelter in late November of that year.

“I went to Jacksonville Humane Society and found my little Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Pete, looking at me with a wide Pit Bull grin,” he recalls. “He was one of only a couple dogs that didn’t bark and loved the attention. He stuck out like a sore thumb.”

But Cody had no intentions of adopting a dog. He had been hoping for a feline friend instead.

“Mind you, I went to get a cat that day,” he says, laughing. “I saw him [Pete] and it was an instant connection. The rest is history.”


Adopting a companion pet should never be an impulsive action because every animal deserves to be adopted for life. But that spark when you meet ‘the one’ can upend your adoption plans in an instant. This is what happened when Cody went to the shelter to adopt a cat and instead came out with a large brindle-coated dog.

Navy veteran falls overboard for homeless Pit Bull's winning smile

The staff at Jacksonville Humane Society told Cody about our partnership and the benefits available to him. The steeply reduced adoption fee offered by the shelter, coupled with our one-time and ongoing support, helped him bring Pete aboard.

“He is the best dog I’ve ever had the experience of owning,” he says, with apologies to his other pup Duncan. “I’ve been blessed with having two of the best dogs a man can ask for, and Pete was the first dog I’ve gotten with the help of Pets for Patriots.”

For his part, Pete is just as happy going on a hike with Cody and Duncan as he is to snuggle on the couch. It is his versatility and faithfulness that make him such a supreme buddy for his veteran, who says of him simply, “He’s the best!”

We often say that our mission saves lives at both ends of the leash – speaking figuratively; our program saves cats as well. Since 2016 it has proven true, including for this Navy veteran and the dog whose winning smile earned him a second chance at life.

“Because of Pets for Patriots and getting Pete,” Cody shares, “it’s literally saved my life.”

1 Comment

  1. Rebecca Murray

    Thank you Cody for serving our great country USA! Also, thank you for giving these two dogs a loving home but also for taking the time to walk them and play with them.

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