Veteran Forced To Give Up His Dogs Breaks Down When The Unthinkable Happens

Oct 18 | 51 sharesEmma Guinness

Since time immemorial, dogs have been man's best friend. But despite our love of our canine companions, it's no secret that not everyone can own one. While I'd absolutely love to have a dog, it's just not an option when I work full time and live in the city - instead, I've had to settle for some feline companions instead. And sadly, veteran James Pack had to seriously reconsider whether or not he could keep his two pooches, Blaze and Bailey, after suffering a heart attack.

Although the then 58-year-old had sought help from his family to take care of his dogs, because his world had been completely turned upside down, he knew that it wasn't enough. The veteran was then forced to contemplate putting his beloved dogs up for adoption so he contacted the SPCA and First State Animal Center in Wyoming, Delaware.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Carrothers

Pack knew he was in trouble when he was first diagnosed with a heart condition, and when he completed his Navy service after the Vietnam War, he studied construction management. Although this was his dream, he knew that he may struggle to work in construction, and when it began to take its toll on his health, he opted for the less arduous career of being a driver.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Donovan

It was around this time that Pack concluded that he wasn't much of a people person and that he preferred the company of animals. When he first met Blaze, he immediately fell in love. The Labrador Pitbull mix was only eight weeks old and the veteran was determined to adopt a dog, so he naturally took him home with him.

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Then, a year later, Pack received a call from the woman who had cared for Blaze prior to his adoption. Despite the offer of a new dog, Pack was reluctant to take on the responsibility but decided to meet the new litter anyway.

Needless to say, Pack fell in love once again and decided that another dog would be great company for Blaze and got Bailey.

The three lived together happily until one day when Pack woke up, dazed and confused, in a hospital room. His first thought was not for himself, but where his beloved pooches were. Although he had to wait for answers, he soon learned that the local SPCA had Blaze and Bailey rescued by a local animal organization until he was well enough to look after them again.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Donovan

This was all happening in September of 2015 when Blaze was nearly three years old and Bailey was almost two.

alt Credit: Delaware SPCA

After five days in care, Pack's health hadn't improved. He had been rushed into the emergency room after having a heart attack and the odds of him pulling through were slim. So, unfortunately, he was unable to pick Blaze and Bailey up from what was supposed to be their temporary rescue. Three weeks later, the volunteers caring for the dogs contacted the hospital.

To see what happened when Pack finally left hospital and went to collect his dogs, check out the video below: 

Sadly, things were looking even worse and they discovered that Pack had contracted an infection. This put the SPCA and the First State Animal Center in a tricky position. They had never cared for dogs this long on a temporary basis.

Not wanting Pack to lose the chance of being reunited with his pooches, they bent the rules and house Blaze and Bailey a little longer in case he managed to get over his infection. But when he didn't, they had no option but to rehome the dogs.

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While Patrick was still alive, by the time his dogs were put up for adoption, his odds of survival were looking even slimmer because he'd suffered temporary paralysis on the left side of his body. In fact, he could no longer even call the SPCA to find out how Blaze and Bailey were doing, and when he did, he was so sick the volunteers barely understood him.

alt Credit: Delaware SPCA

Not wanting to upset Pack on his sick bed, the SPCA told a white lie and said that they were doing their best to look after his dogs for as long as possible so that they could be reunited. "He didn't have anybody to care for his two dogs, so he had to surrender them," SPCA worker Lindsay Carrothers said in an interview with the Delaware State News.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Donovan

Despite the odds being very much stacked against him, the knowledge that his dogs were being looked after seemed to help Pack's recovery, and Carrothers was full of praise for the dogs. "They are super adorable," she said. "He has them trained to a T."

Although it looked like the end of Pack's life was nigh, he managed to make a miraculous recovery, but by the time he was finally deemed well enough to leave the hospital, he'd been there for three months and Christmas was just around the corner.

This begged two questions, would Blaze and Bailey still be in care? And would they recognize Pack on his return?

alt Credit: First State Animal Center And SPCA

So, naturally, the first thing Pack did when he got out of the hospital was rush to find them.

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While the dogs hadn't been adopted, they were not at the shelter...

Instead, they had been transferred to PetSmart so that they had a better chance of being adopted. Blaze and Bailey made such an impression there that the staff struggled to understand why they hadn't found a new home yet. However, the majority of families were on the hunt for trendier looking dogs like Pugs and not larger pooches like Blaze and Bailey.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Donovan

When Pack discovered where Blaze and Bailey were, he went to PetSmart and told the staff that he was their owner, but that his illness had torn apart their "happy family". The staff then brought out the dogs and it was an emotional moment for everyone involved. "The dogs were excited to see him," Carrothers said. "It was completely heart touching. Everybody cried."

Prior to getting out of the hospital, Pack knew that he was going to have to change his current living arrangement if he was going to keep Blaze and Bailey and he had concluded that the only way they'd be able to live together would be in his car.

But when the SPCA got wind of his plan, they decided to take action to stop this from happening.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Donovan

While Blaze and Bailey were at PetSmart, they had a $210 adoption fee each. But after being in the hospital for so long, Pack simply couldn't afford it. Not only did he have medical bills to pay off, but he'd been out of work for three months. Desperate to get his dogs back, he gave the staff every remaining cent he had and said he'd return with the rest of the money soon.

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Sadly, however, because Pack didn't have the required amount of money, the staff at PetSmart wouldn't let him have his dogs back and he grew increasingly desperate. He even considered trading his car into a junkyard in an attempt to raise it.

alt Credit: Melissa Eagle

But little did Pack know that someone very special had watched his reunion with Blaze and Bailey, SPCA worker Melissa Eagle, and she vowed there and then that she would do everything in her power to reunite this once happy family.

After deciding against trading in his car (after all, that would make it even harder for Pack to get to work), he returned to PetSmart with the money he'd been able to raise. He hoped that this cash, coupled with the fact that he'd been going to church every day, would be enough for him to get Blaze and Bailey back. But Carrothers said it still wasn't enough.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Donovan

At this point, Pack broke down at the counter, crying, "Why is that? I can't have my dogs?" The veteran then grew so emotional that it was difficult for staff to work out what he was saying. "I can't. I can't have my dogs?" he asked again.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Donovan

By now, you're probably wondering why Carrothers didn't just bend the rules and let Pack have his dogs back, however, there is more to this part of the story than meets the eye. She told them that he was going to get all of his money back.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Donovan

Why? Because someone had decided to cover the cost of the adoptions on his behalf.

Realizing that Pack was not able to pay the adoption fees for his dogs, PetSmart reduced the cost and Melissa Eagle picked up the rest of the tab. When she told other volunteers at the SPCA about her desire to help Pack, she thought that only a few of them would contribute towards the adoption fee, but his story touched the hearts of a lot of people.

alt Credit: Melissa Eagle

And they decided not only to cover the adoption fee but to donate more to help Pack get back on his feet.

So, after being told that he was getting his beloved dogs back, Carrothers took out a number of other things for Pack from behind the counter. This included toys, treats, gift cards and food - all of which had been donated by shelter volunteers.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Carrothers

In response to this kindness, Pack began to cry again - only this time, it was happy tears that were streaming down his cheeks.

However, Packs surprises weren't over yet.

alt Credit: Facebook / Lindsay Carrothers

Since it was founded in 1953, the SPCA and the First State Animal Center has been on a mission to maintain good relationships between animals and humans, and the organizations took over all animal management in Delaware in 2005.

This power was the reason Blaze and Bailey were looked after so well when they were found by an unconscious Pack's side.

These charities, however, were not the only sources of help available to Pack. Because he was a veteran, during his rehab, he discovered organizations like Veteran Affairs and the Delaware Commission for Veteran Affairs.

Amazingly, they helped him find work once he'd recovered enough to start supporting himself again.


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But before Pack left the PetSmart, Eagle had arranged one last surprise for him.

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Unbeknownst to him, his emotional reunion with Blaze and Bailey had been recorded, and when Melissa posted it on the internet, it went viral. She subsequently set up a GoFundMe for the veteran and in just two days, Eagle's $5,000 target was smashed.

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So, as you can tell from the picture above, Christmas really did come early for Pack and his family, who were finally happy again! If this doesn't bring a tear to your eye, I don't know what will. It just goes to show that there's still a lot of good in this world.