Vietnam veteran saves neglected dog slated for death

Despite serving in Vietnam, Hugh never used the word “hero” to describe himself. But a neglected shelter dog marked for death would beg to differ: Hugh saved his life.

“Jo Jo was chosen to be euthanized because he had been so neglected,” says Hugh. “His teeth on the right side were rotten and he was so thin.” Hugh and Jo Jo

Long after Vietnam, Hugh moved from Kentucky to Florida with his wife, Linda. The veteran is a compassionate family man, and he and Linda are active in their local church. Together they have two sons, two daughters-in-law, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren, and consider themselves blessed.

Life wasn’t always so joyful, however. 

Fear in An Khe Pass, Vietnam

On December 17, 1965, Hugh was drafted in the Army and served a year each in the states and in Vietnam, the latter providing one of the veteran’s most enduring – and terrifying – memories of his service.

“I was awakened while laying in a foxhole in Vietnam,” recalls Hugh, “by about a dozen rats standing on my chest in An Khe Pass in the middle of the night.”

In spite of this experience, Hugh is passionate about animals.

“There is a great need to save the little ones,” Hugh says of shelter pets. “My wife and I love animals, we love to save them, we love to love and care for them.”

Saving a death row dog

The Army veteran never forgot what it meant to feel afraid. Little did he know that he was poised to be a savior to a death row dog who was trembling in fear when Hugh and Linda met the then four year-old Chihuahua mix at the Lake City Humane Society.

“He was so helpless and scared to death,” says Hugh of little Jo Jo.

Having been approved by Pets for Patriots a few months earlier, Hugh was able to save Jo Jo on the spot. As an added benefit and as their gratitude special for veterans in the Pets for Patriots program, Lake City Humane Society waived the dog’s adoption fee.

“Pets for Patriots made it possible for us to help save another of G-d’s creatures!” exclaims Hugh.

Once loveless and neglected, Jo Jo rules the roost

Today, Jo Jo is a different dog, and Hugh and Linda are forever changed as a result of adopting him.

“It’s so rewarding for us as well,” says the veteran. “Every time I look at him now, he has this look in his eyes of adoration. He’s a wonderful little dog that makes me happy just to look at him.” Hugh and Jo Jo closeup

In spite of having been previously owned by a hoarder and, according to Hugh, “never had any affection,” Jo Jo is a very well-mannered member of the family. 

“Jo Jo is so cute and so willing to cooperate,” Hugh observes. “There were 32 dogs rescued that day, and when we first got him to foster he didn’t make a sound for two weeks!”

As he became more confident in his new home, the once neglected dog changed his tune.

“Little by little,” says the Vietnam veteran, “he has become ‘the Boss.'”

For Hugh and Linda, adopting through Pets for Patriots is a must for any veteran considering a new pet friend.

“Absolutely!” Hugh exclaims. “Adopt through Pets for Patriots. It’s an outstanding experience!”

How has saving a once-hopeless shelter pet changed your life?



  1. What a wonderful story! My in laws live in Lake City, and I’m happy to see such a fantastic story from our back yard. Good luck and thank you for rescuing!


  2. LorieAnne K says:

    This is a great article celebrating veterans as well as rescues from shelters… Just don’t understand why the author couldn’t correctly quote the combat veteran and put in “God?” Why disguise it?

  3. This is a fantastic story, I am inspire from them. My best wishes to him and their family. Family is great which support them in rescuing dogs. Really a dog is a lovely pet.

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