Karina is something of an accidental adopter. The Navy veteran already had a multi-dog home when a chance visit to her local animal shelter inspired her to save one more.
For many young enlistees the military offers an opportunity to learn, mature, and lay a foundation for their futures. Karina would be no different.
“I joined the Navy because I wanted a way to pay for college, and also to help me get out of home and learn responsibility,” she explains. “I have enjoyed my time in and I am grateful for everything I have accomplished while in, and for everything I have learned.”
Karina has been serving for more than seven years and is in the final months of her military obligation. Originally from Sacramento, California, since enlisting in the Navy she calls Jacksonville, Florida her home.
After basic training Karina trained as a mechanic for MH-60 helicopters. Also known as Romeos, these anti-submarine warfare helicopters are a relative of the better known Army UH-60 Black Hawk choppers.
Enlisting in the Navy opened up Karina’s world. A deployment to Japan – where she “fell in love” with the culture and people – marked her very first time out of the United States.
As it happens the young sailor would find another kind of love as well. It was during her deployment that she met her current boyfriend of six years.
Going to the dogs
In her free time Karina likes to take her dogs on adventures or simply enjoy their company at home. She has two German Shepherds whose demand for activity and exercise keep her busy.
So it is fair to say that the young Navy veteran was not looking to add to her multi-dog home.
However, one day by chance Karina found a small Chihuahua in her neighborhood.
Despite the petite pup’s sweet demeanor Karina was concerned that her two shepherds would accidentally hurt the small dog during play. So she took the responsible action and brought the tiny dog to her local animal shelter.
Jacksonville Humane Society has made dozens of adoptions possible through our partnership. The shelter offers veterans in our program a reduced adoption fee of just 20 dollars for those who rescue eligible dogs and cats.
Shelter staff took the Chihuahua into their care and, instead of walking out the door, Karina lingered.
“I was curious of the dogs they had so I decided to walk through their adoption center and immediately felt like I needed every single one,” she shares. “I felt sad seeing their sweet faces, and you can just tell they just wanted to be loved. That’s when I decided I wanted to adopt at least one and give them a good life.”
Going to the dogs
After her shelter visit Karina learned about Pets for Patriots through another veterans’ resource, and applied. The mission behind our companion pet adoption program resonated with her.
“I read about it and thought it was a great program. I decided to adopt through Pets for Patriots because it was a huge help with the expenses of getting another dog, and I also made sure to share about this program to my other colleagues,” she says. “I think it’s an amazing program and love how it promotes adoption to help get a dog into a great home.”
In early July 2023 a dog named Jada entered Jacksonville Humane Society. She was estimated to be four years old and tipped the scales at nearly 70 pounds.
For these reasons Jada was a pet who would not be easy to place.
Perhaps it is fate that the big dog entered the shelter on the same day that Karina was approved into our program.
Still, it would be another few weeks til the Navy veteran returned to Jacksonville Humane Society. However this time instead of bringing one dog in she would be bringing one dog home.
“…she has taught me patience”
Like most newly adopted dogs Jada got a new name with her new life: Luna.
Despite joining a multi-dog home the big pup is making her own imprint on her new pack. She approached Karina for a cuddle within hours of her arrival despite being understandably timid at first.
Still, it takes time to fully acclimate a rescue animal to a new home – especially one that has resident pets.
“Although we had a little trouble with her getting use to my other two, she has taught me patience and that’s it’s okay if things aren’t perfect right away,” Karina shares.
“I also make sure I show every single one love and make sure no one feels left out!”
Whatever was Luna’s past, it is behind her. These days she likes to play chase in the family’s yard and be rewarded with treats for good behavior.
Luna’s sweet demeanor belies her skills as an excellent sentry. Nothing escapes her notice.
“She’s also an amazing alert system,” Karina says. “She alerts me when someone is at the door, when the neighbors are out or when a car passes by.”
Although the young Navy veteran is an experienced dog mom she appreciates the support she received from our team. Since adopting Luna she encourages other veterans to apply to Pets for Patriots when they consider adding a dog or cat to their homes.
“I would 100 percent recommend this program to every single veteran. It’s a great way to start if it’s your adoption because they help you throughout every step,” she shares. “It was amazing working with you guys and I enjoyed how I was being checked on and making sure I was getting the help I needed.”