Someone decided to send in the Marines – and the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard – to make possible our 600th honorable adoption of a United States military veteran and a last-chance shelter pet.
Although we serve men and women from all United States armed forces and at any stage of their careers, it was an active duty Marine who had the distinction of becoming the 600th pairing of pet and person since Pets for Patriots launched in 2010.
The few, the proud
Andrew knew early in life that he was destined to lead.
“I realized after high school and trying a few different career fields that what I enjoyed doing most was helping and standing up for others [who] couldn’t,” he says, adding that he joined the Marine Corps to be “part of the number one gun club in America that fights for our freedom and stands up for our country.”
In 2011, Andrew enlisted in the Marines and has “loved it ever since.”
Recently, the young Marine and his wife, Briana, decided that it was time to add a companion pet to their family. The couple decided that an older dog would not only suit their lifestyles best, but would give an animal with fewer prospects for adoption a second chance at love.
Pets for Patriots focuses exclusively on the most overlooked pets – adult and special needs dogs and cats, and large breed dogs – something Andrew learned about through the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, a locally participating shelter which waives pet adoption fees for Pets for Patriots members and extends an ongoing 10% discount through its full-service Animal Health Center.
“I instantly knew it was a great program,” Andrew says. “When I saw the mission statement of Pets for Patriots, I realized how you guys were looking out for the animals that weren’t always chosen as easily as say puppies or smaller dogs that get picked from shelters faster than an older or larger dog.”
Andrew was impressed as well with the range of benefits offered to veterans who adopt through Pets for Patriots, including ongoing discounted veterinary care, a generous gift card to help with ‘welcome home’ pet food and basics, and exclusive sponsor-provided discounts.
From unwanted shelter dog to
It was a big, beautiful dog named Claire – since renamed Belle – who made the greatest impression upon the young couple. All they knew about the two year-old, 57-pound mixed-breed dog was that she was transferred from another shelter where she had almost no prospects of ever getting out alive. They renamed the dog after Briana’s favorite Disney princess from Beauty and the Beast.
“When we saw Belle in person for the first time,” says Andrew, “we fell in love with her immediately.”
Lots of kisses and tail wags later, Belle became the 600th shelter pet adopted through Pets for Patriots, which operates nationally and aims to be in every state by the end of 2015.
“We celebrate every honorable adoption,” says Beth Zimmerman, founder and executive director of Pets for Patriots, “because it means that a shelter animal facing death or permanent homelessness has a second chance at life, and a veteran has a new best friend who will love without judgement or condition. These milestones provide an extra opportunity to share our life-saving work and mission with others.”
Love to the rescue
Andrew, Briana and Belle are already settled into their new lives together, despite having been family only since July 25, 2014.
“We’ve spent the majority of our time home with her sharing our love and taking her on walks around the neighborhood,” Andrew says. “We look forward to the future and joy our newfound pet will bring to our family.”
One unexpected rite of passage that this Marine veteran will not have to think about for a while: buying pet waste bags to pick up after Belle. In response to a request on Twitter for product donations to commemorate the occasion, Dinpak – a disabled veteran-owned business – donated a one-year supply of their signature Sgt. P Brands “Tour of Doodie” bags. Andrew is confident the gift will be put to immediate and excellent use.
Overall, this young Marine is thrilled to have adopted his best buddy through Pets for Patriots.
“It’s just an amazing program all around for both the pet and service members.”
Learn more about our life-saving work and how you can help.
I love to see all the good work being done. I just wish more clinics in Maine supported Pets for Patriots. As a 100% disabled veteran I have the love and time but not always the funds for such a glorious endeavor. Bless you PfP for making all the love connections!
Thank you for your service, Laurie! We appreciate how expensive it can be to have a pet, and are growing as fast as we can. If a pet doesn’t fit your budget at the moment, you might want to think about volunteering at your local animal shelter, or fostering a pet for them (all costs are born by the shelter). You can learn more about pet fostering here: https://www.petsforpatriots.org/what-is-pet-fostering/
The smile on the faces of Brianna and Andrew’s faces say a lot, but the SMILE in Belle’s EYES say it ALL! That is one happy and loved dog and she knows it!
Way to go Pet’s for Patriots.
And a HUGE thank you to Andrew, Brianna (yes the families deserve our appreciation also) and all service members past and present for your service.
You’re right Cherie; Belle’s smile does say it all! Thank you for your kind words.
I am a disabled veteran and I volunteer at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and we have so many sweet and lovable large dogs that need homes and I hope that more veterans do what Andrew and Brianna did for Belle. I myself adopted three sweet dog’s from there
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