Retired Navy officer with heart for older pets is lifeline to senior dog in need

Retired Navy officer with heart for older pets is lifeline to senior dog in need

Kevin served our nation for nearly 30 years. Now retired and with a lifelong heart for older pets, he saves those who otherwise face grim prospects for adoption.

A life of service

For one Navy officer retirement just means being busy with new adventures. Kevin is not one to sit by idly.

“Wife and I are retired,” he says. “She volunteers as an attorney with legal aid and I am a soccer referee in my spare time.”

Kevin has earned his current, more leisurely life after serving in the Navy for nearly three decades. Over the years he served on a wide range of ships and deployed to some of the most hostile corners of the world.

“27 years as a US Navy surface warfare officer,” he says. “Served on cruiser-destroyer, auxiliary, minesweeper, and amphibious ships. Several staff tours ashore and afloat.”

Surface warfare officers are expert in all aspects of a ship’s operations, from navigation to combat systems to engineering. They are responsible to maintain the operational integrity of the ships to which they are assigned as well as the crews who serve under their leadership.

The naval officer acquired too many experiences to remember during the long arc of his military career. Still, one stood out above the rest.

“My last deployment as the chief staff officer for Amphibious Squadron Six,” he recalls. “[It] was the maiden deployment for USS Bataan (LHD 5) to the Mediterranean and Middle East.”

After more than two dozen years of faithful service to our nation, Kevin retired with an honorable discharge. In the ensuing years his heart for older pets would anchor his post-military life.

For the love of older pets

Kevin and his wife, Leslee, share a passion for adopting companion pets. The couple enjoy older animals, in particular, who struggle the most to find permanent homes.

Still, in 2019 the pair decided to add another pet to their pack.

“We have several older Chihuahua [and] Chihuahua mix-type dogs,” Kevin explains, “and decided we wanted another.”

The couple visited Virginia Beach SPCA, which has partnered with us since 2012 to help eligible dogs and cats find loving military homes.

The organization offers veterans in our program 25 percent off adoption fees and access to their low-cost veterinary clinic without proof of income eligibility.

Shelter staff told Kevin how our program works and encouraged him to apply. While at the shelter to visit one particular dog, he and Leslee ended up meeting another dog whom they would ultimately adopt.

Boss girl

It was early April 2019 when a petite Chihuahua mix entered Virginia Beach SPCA. At the time the dog – named Chloe – barely tipped the scale at 10 pounds and was estimated to be nine years old.

Sadly, mature dogs and cats are least likely to be adopted. Most people want puppies or kittens, or at best young adult animals. However, there are many benefits of adopting senior pets, as anyone who has ever done so will attest.

Admittedly, Chloe was not the first pet on Kevin’s radar.

“Found Chloe when we went looking at another dog we had seen advertised at the SPCA,” he shares. “The other dog would not have fit in well, but we luckily found Chloe and she fits in well, but she likes to be the boss.”

Chloe would spend nearly a month in the shelter before she met Kevin and Leslee. In no time she not only adapted to her new family and surroundings, but began to rule the roost.

“She is an active and happy dog that fits in well with our other dogs and cats,” Kevin says.

The retired Navy officer did not need another pet, but as it turns out another pet needed him. And while Chloe has aged a bit in the years since her adoption, she is always up for a little adventure. It is perhaps what Kevin loves most about his pint-sized charge.

“She follows me everywhere,” he shares, “and likes to go in the car for rides and to visit my church.”

Despite her time in the shelter, Chloe was among the fortunate ones. She was lucky to have stolen the heart of a man who has a heart for older pets.


  1. Candis

    More people are realizing the benefits of older animals, and they are actually perfect for senior citizens who cannot handle big dogs or dogs that are too energetic (young ones). Such a perfect solution! Thank you for serving our country and giving homes to senior pets!

  2. Guy Dobbins

    I thought the dogs had to be 40 lbs or more. If that’s not true, our search will be much easier for us since I have had a heart attack. Please advise.

    • Jan

      1. 2yrs or older OR,
      2. Special needs OR,
      3. 6mos + in shelter OR,
      4. Over 40#
      Only one of the above criteria must be met to qualify.

  3. Dorothy Greynolds

    Thank you for adopting a senior dog. My parents’ dogs were amazing and so special when rhey were seniors.

    Thank you for your service.

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