Navy veteran helps dog go from chained to cherished

A chained life is no life

The plights of chained and tethered dogs are often overlooked because people fail to recognize them as potential cases of animal cruelty. In truth, these practices can lead to severe psychological and physical damage and, in some cases, death.

Thanks to the actions of many, including a Navy veteran who joined Pets for Patriots with the intent of adopting a companion, a once-chained dog in Virginia was saved from her cruel existence.

Now a cherished member of the family, the Australian Shepherd mix is learning for the first time what is means to be free and to be loved.

It took a village

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) receives plenty of well-earned criticism for the high kill rates at its Norfolk, Virginia shelter, as well as for other aspects of its animal activism. Lost is the fact that their rescue team saves many animals from heinous abuse, some of whom are transferred to other shelters for adoption.

In fact, a dog named Athena owes her life to PETA.

When Athena was found in her owner’s yard one of her legs had become so entangled in her chain that it was swollen and infected; she was unable to bear weight on it at all. Even more dire, the dog had a life-threatening body temperature of 106 degrees when she was found in the blazing summer sun, and no way to reach her water.

Thankfully Athena’s negligent owners agreed to surrender her to PETA, whose rescue team took her to a veterinarian where she received urgent treatment and some good news: the once-chained dog’s leg was not broken. Athena was treated, her temperature safely brought back to normal, and she was transferred to our partners at the Virginia Beach SPCA (VBSPCA), who agreed to take the adult dog and place her for adoption.

A gift from above

Just two days after he was approved into our program, Conor adopted Athena. Conor and Leia_square_love

Currently serving in the Navy, Conor probably would not have recognized his new pet friend had he seen pictures of her chained and rotting in the hot sun. The Navy veteran renamed her Leia, which means “child of heaven” or “heavenly flowers.”

Leia is the name of the princess in the iconic Star Wars films, as well, so we like to think her name means “heavenly princess.”

Conor and Leia are together just a few weeks at the time of this writing, and we hope to have an update once they have had more time to bond. For now, we are grateful to all who played a part in giving a chained dog her freedom, and the dignity intended for all living creatures.

Learn more about our life-saving work and how you make it possible.


  1. Holly

    It’s so important to know just how much these pups can helps us all as well as a kind hearted caring person reaching out to help these defenseless animals. We all need that special someone and even if they have 4 legs (Your pup looks like a twin of mine)

    Thank you for your services

  2. Desiree

    God bless you both!

  3. Birgitta Kaikkonen

    Awesome story, but I would bet my next paycheck, that that dog is either a purebred or part-bred Long-haired Dutch Shepherd. I have owned 2 and one could have been a clone of that!

  4. Betty

    What a difference Love makes in the hearts and minds of both humans and animals. What a heartwarming tale…a WIN-WIN for both Connor and Leia! :O)

    Blessings to all parties involved in making this story a happy ending.

  5. Susan

    What a wonderful rescue story! Look at Leia’s face before and after. A world of difference. She is beautiful and now safe and happy. Thank you to everyone who got her ‘home’ to Conor. And thank you for sharing this story.

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