Pit Bull who endured years of abuse steals Navy veteran’s heart

Pit Bull who endured years of abuse steals Navy veteran's heart

Jitterbug is a young Pit Bull who endured years of abuse at the hands of intolerably cruel people. Yet somehow she found a way to convince a reluctant Navy veteran to save her, and give her the loving life all companion pets deserve.

A life of service

Mark devoted more than 20 years in service to our nation. He enlisted in the Navy in 1979. After boot camp he went to A school for advanced technical training in Millington, Tennessee. He was subsequently assigned to Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia.

Throughout the course of his Navy career Mark did nine major deployments and acquired memories too numerous to count. One that stands out in his mind, however, was launching the Secretary of the Navy into his plane.

“His name was John Layman,” Mark recalls, “he came to my ship, the Eisenhower, and flew with my crew, the VA-65.”

The VA-65 – known as the Fighting Tigers – was an attack squadron of Navy aircraft. Mark’s crew earned numerous awards, including the Battle E, Golden Tail Hooks and Golden Wrench awards. The latter recognizes the crews’ outstanding maintenance work.

The reluctant adopter

Mark is now settled in his wife’s hometown of Decatur, Illinois, though he originally hails from Ohio.

“Yes,” he confides, “I bleed scarlet and gray.”

The Navy veteran drives a spotter truck – or semi-tractor – and his wife, Londa, is a customer service representative at a local tire store. Londa has a cat named Jo Jo from before her marriage to Mark. Yet she really wanted a dog for the couple’s new life together. Towards the end of 2017 the pair celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary.

“We looked around and finally went to the local shelter,” Mark says.

That shelter is the Macon County Animal Control and Care Center, which has been a Pets for Patriots adoption partner since 2013. The shelter waives pet adoption fees for veterans in our program who adopt program-eligible dogs and cats.

Londa saw Jitterbug, a then three year-old Pit Bull who endured years of abuse prior to being rescued by the shelter. But Mark was not interested in a Pit Bull. In fact, many people hold misconceptions about the various dog breeds that are commonly called Pit Bulls. As a result, more shelters are dropping breed labels in favor of descriptive attributes of the dogs in their care. This makes it more likely that prospective adopters will at least give a dog a chance.

Pit Bull who endured years of abuse steals Navy veteran's heart

Yet Londa was continually drawn to the dog, named Jackie at the shelter. She asked the staff to bring Jitterbug – now Jitter – into the visiting room.

“They brought Jitter in and she did not want anything to do with Londa, just me,” Mark recalls. “I think she knew she had Londa, [but] had to win me over.”

The couple decided to foster Jitter to see if she would fit into their home. The rest, as they say, is history.

Pit Bull who endured years of abuse works her charms

It did not take long for Jitter to work her canine charm on Mark and overcome his initial reluctance.

“We brought her home to foster and we feel in love, and just had to keep her,” Mark says. He added that the couple prayed that they would be approved to adopt her.

The Navy veteran applied to our companion pet adoption program for veterans and within a few days made Jitter’s adoption official. The shelter staff told him about our program and cost-saving benefits.

“At times it’s expensive to adopt,” Mark says. “Pets for Patriots helped us with the cost so we could give Jitter her forever home.”

During this time Mark learned about the unspeakable cruelty the young dog had survived, as well.

“Jitter was found to be mistreated. She was in a puppy mill and then thrown in for fighting bait,” Mark says.

Jitter was found on the side of the road. No one knows how she got there, but one thing was clear: the Pit Bull who endured years of abuse had trouble walking. After multiple veterinarians reviewed her x-rays, they determined that she likely broke her back at some point and never received treatment.

Jitter’s spine fused in such a way that she can lead a normal life and, at this time, does not require surgical intervention. She does have a peculiar gait and sometimes has trouble standing up.

“She could barley walk,” Mark says. “Londa and I have worked with her and now she is great. She still wobbles a little when she walks, but that’s fine. So do we.”

Joy to their world

Jitter is thriving now more than a year after her adoption. She left behind a life of forced breeding, dog fighting, and being discarded like yesterday’s trash. And she repays her saviors with the love that only a companion pet can deliver. Pit Bull who endured years of abuse steals Navy veteran's heart

“Jitter is a great companion, she had brought joy to our lives,” Mark says. “She is happy to see us all the time and is so fun to play fetch with, except she still has to learn to release.”

It took a little time for the young Pit Bull to learn that Jo Jo the cat “is not her personal, live toy.” But now the pair lay together and look out the front door at passersby.

“When Jitter goes out side, Jo Jo is at the door watching waiting for her to come back in,” Mark shares. “I never had a dog growing up, just farm animals, so this is all new for me.”

While life in the Navy veteran’s household is mostly harmonious, Jitter occasionally needs a firm, yet loving reprimand.

“She is smart, obedient, she sits, lays, speaks, stays –  [and] she loves me even after being scolded,” Mark says.

Adopting through our nonprofit gave Mark the support that helped him welcome this sweet Pit Bull who endured years of abuse into his heart and home. The financial savings and ongoing outreach made a difference, especially for this first-time adopter.

“Give Pets for Patriots a chance to help you find your forever fur baby,” he advises, “they work with you help you every step of the way. They keep in touch they send emails, and are there for you when you need them.”


  1. Christine Vercellino

    Yes pitt bulls are the absolute best dogs. Loyal, loving, intelligent. They have won my heart over a long time ago. And now you feel the same . WHO RESCUED WHO? Truer words were never spoken.

  2. Jane Weaver

    Hi Londa and Mark, everytime I see these wonderful adoptions of this breed, I smile huge! Thank you Londa for persisting on having Jitterbug, and Mark, I’m not surprised your perception has changed about this breed. They are the best! I had one named Bruce, best thing I ever did was adopt him.
    This breed gets a bad rap, it’s never the dogs fault of how they are brought up, its a people problem. They are full of love even after they have endured such trauma. I’m from Canada and we are fighting to repeal the ridiculous Breed Specific Legislation we have here. The worst thing about this law is even if the dog isn’t a pit all it has to do is look like one. It’s based on looks, how stupid is our gov’t and this law!!!! It’s so backwards and barbaric but that’s our gov’t for ya! Thk u for showing Jitter love and giving her a beautiful home. I zoomed in on her pic and have you noticed she has a heart shape around her nose? She is beautiful!!!!

  3. Nancy Zadra

    Congratulations, Mark and Londa, on being able to share your very moving story with the world. Thank you, Mark, for the many years you have served in the Navy, protecting our great country. Thanks to both of you for opening your hearts and welcoming Jitterbug into your loving home , giving her the care and love that she needs and deserves. She is beautiful and truly “One Lucky Dog”. Blessings to all of you!!!

  4. Londa Ricketts

    Thank you for publishing our story, life would not be the same in our home without jitterbug she is truly loved and has her forever home. Thanks to pets for vets

  5. Christine E

    Jitter is so pretty! You make a great pair. So glad you and your wife were able to help this sweet dog.

  6. Mary Eaton

    The comments above express my sentiments and then more. Thank you for sharing your story, Mark and Londa, and speaking up for Jitter who will now only know of love which you two have granted her. A wholesome foursome as Jo Jo can’t go unrecognized for welcoming Jitter to the family as well!

  7. Robin Matson

    To stand up for those who receive bad treatment and abuse at the hands of others is a great calling. Thank you for taking Jitter into your home, you will continue to reap blessings and benefits for protecting those who can’t protect themselves.

  8. Eileen Ellington

    Congratulations on bringing together this family.

  9. Christine

    May God bless you both. My heart is so happy when I see stories like this. She is beautiful and now will have the loving life she deserves.

  10. Ryann

    Another beautiful Pit Bull rescue story! Love love love! Congrats to Jitter and her new family!

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