We wanted to share this heartwarming story with you all! Thank you, Pets for Patriots, for continuously bringing military veterans and shelter pets together!
Lizzy had a long journey from a Louisiana shelter to an animal welfare organization in Pennsylvania. But the 10-pound rescue pup would prove a worthy companion to a Navy veteran and his wife coping with isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic.
VIETNAM WAR ‘DAMBUSTERS’
Lloyd served as an aviation jet mechanic during the Vietnam war. These highly skilled professionals may serve at sea or on land. They are tasked with maintaining the integrity of internal and external aircraft systems and supporting all flight operations.
“I spent one-and-a-half years on a carrier with a fighter squadron of A-1H Skyraiders, VA-195,” Lloyd recalls. “We went up and down the coast of north and south Vietnam.”
Strike fighter squadron 195, or VA-195, was used extensively in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. In 1951 the squadron earned the nickname ‘Dambusters’ when they destroyed the strategic Hwachon Reservoir dam in North Korea.
The Vietnam war was deeply unpopular at home. However, that did not diminish the danger to our forces nor the sacrifices they made in service to our nation.
Lloyd is humble about the real perils he and his fellow sailors faced every day.
“We were also fired on by a sampan in the Gulf of Tonkin,” he shares. “No one was hurt, and a destroyer blew it to pieces.”
Sampans are small, flat-bottomed boats typically used by fishermen. But during the war, they were repurposed by the North Vietnamese to help transport weapons and combatants in their fight against Americans.
Lloyd’s tour of duty up and down the Vietnam coast “was the only dramatic thing” that transpired over the course of his Navy career.
In 1966, after more than three years of service, Lloyd separated from the Navy with an Honorable discharge to begin the rest of his life.
FROM LOUISIANA, WITH LOVE
Lloyd is currently retired and lives in Hamburg, Pennsylvania with his wife, Karen. The pair share their home – and love – with family of the four-legged variety.
“My wife and I have the two dogs,” he says. “Lizzy that’s three years old and Milo that is six years.”
Lizzy is a 10-pound rescue pup who trekked from a shelter in Tangipahou Parish in Louisiana to a Pennsylvania shelter. Her journey was not unusual.
Animal welfare organizations around the country have embraced interstate transport as a way to save millions of animals each year.
In October 2021 Lizzy arrived at Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving. The organization is part of Humane Pennsylvania, a cooperative of animal welfare organizations and nonprofit veterinarians.
Humane Pennsylvania has partnered with Pets for Patriots since 2019. Its shelters offer fee-waived adoptions to veterans in our program and 10 percent off fees at their full-service, affordable veterinary clinics.
Thankfully Lizzy’s long journey was not in vain. The petite pup was on the verge of going from homeless to home.
“…I COULD NOT RESIST HER”
Isolation caused by the seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic inspired Lloyd and Karen to adopt another companion pet. The couple visited Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving with the hopes of saving a four-legged soul in need of a loving home.
Shelter staff told the couple how our program works. Our mission to make pet guardianship more affordable for military veterans struck a chord with Lloyd.
“I was told about you at the humane society in Reading,” he says, “and I wanted to get the benefits that you offered.”
It is often said that our pets choose us as much as we choose them. This was definitely the case with Lizzy and Lloyd. The then three-year-old Dachshund-Beagle mix set her sights on the Navy veteran and won his heart in an instant.
“I love small dogs and Lizzy came right to me,” he says, “and I could not resist her.”
No one knows for sure how Lizzy wound up in a Louisiana shelter. Or why she was among those chosen to be on a transport to Pennsylvania. But she is making up for her sad start to life by bringing joy to Lloyd, Karen, and her new dog sister Milo.
Fortunately, Lloyd has more than enough love in his heart for both of his four-legged family members. Together the dogs are doing wonders for his emotional health, especially during periods of long isolation brought on by COVID-19.
“I look forward to having and playing with both dogs every day. It puts me in a great mood.”
As for Lizzy, since her adoption, the 10-pound rescue pup has upped the energy in the household. She and Milo have bonded and do nearly everything together.
“They are the best pets and they keep us great company,” Lloyd says. “They both love to play and they have their own toys, just like little kids.”
While the pandemic inspired Lloyd to adopt another pet, do not mistake Lizzy for a short-term pandemic pup. Sadly, many pets adopted during the pandemic are being surrendered to shelters as their guardians return to work outside the home.
The Vietnam veteran, however, believes that when you adopt a pet, you adopt for that animal’s life.
Milo – and now Lizzy – seem to understand that they are in their permanent home. They feel confident that neither Lloyd nor Karen will give up on them. And they show their appreciation in ways big and small as pets do in their own special ways.
“When we go places and then come home they are there at the door to greet us both,” Lloyd shares. “In this time of the pandemic, we are so glad to have them both.”