For many people, dogs are such an important part of life that they will do anything to protect their pups and care for them — even if that means putting their four-legged friends’ needs before their own.
James Pack of Newark, New Jersey, is a Navy vet who loves his two Labrador-pit bull mixes very much. Bailey and Blaze are everything to him, and when he suffered a serious health issue in 2015, he thought he’d lost them forever.
In an interview with Fox News that year, Pack recounted the turbulent series of events: He was out with his dogs, and then he was waking up in the hospital, unable to speak and with his dogs nowhere in sight.
Pack is blessed to be alive after suffering a major heart attack, but his heart was still broken as he recovered in the hospital, not knowing where his two beloved dogs had ended up. He’d had them since they were just eight weeks old, and needed them back.
He told Fox that once he was well enough he’d pray on the steps of a church, hoping to be reunited but not knowing how — but he felt an insistent prompting to contact the local chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
When Pack experienced the medical emergency, animal control had taken the dogs in. But because the veteran had a long recovery time and would be separated from them for three months, according to the Delaware State News, there was nothing he could do but give his dogs over to be adopted.
“He didn’t have anybody to care for his two dogs so he had to surrender them,” Lindsay Carrothers, a worker with the First State Animal Center and SPCA in Camden, New Jersey, said.
“They are super adorable,” she added. “He has them trained to a T.”
According to a GoFundMe started by a woman who worked with animal control, the situation was complicated.
“On September 25, 2015 animal control picked Baily and Blaze up for safe keeping because their owner suffered a major heart attack,” the page said. “Safe keeping holds are normally 5 days. However their owner wanted them back more than anything and wasn’t doing well.”
“The shelter held them for 20 days and made the decision to go ahead and sterilize them and place them up for adoption after receiving news that their owner wasn’t well and may not make it. Their owner called many times asking about them stating he was coming to get them. He loved them a lot but when he did get better he wasn’t in a position to get them back.”
By the time Pack could get to his dogs, it was nearly Christmas, and they were being offered for adoption at a PetSmart in Dover, New Jersey. The staff told him it would be over $200 to adopt them both.
The veteran, now in better health, was at least able to greet his two dogs, and promised he’d be back the next day with the adoption fee. He didn’t know where he’d get the money, though he considered selling his car to the scrapyard to get the cash he needed.
“It was an emotional reunion,” Carrothers said. “He was emotional. The dogs were excited to see him. It was completely heart touching. Everybody cried.”
After news got out of the man’s devotion to his dogs and their obvious joy at seeing their former owner, several groups stepped in to help. The adoption fee was reduced, and a kind-hearted donor paid for the amount in full.
Others gave money so that not only would Blaze and Bailey get to go back home with Pack, but they’d go in style, with new treats, toys and gift baskets.
When Pack returned the next day, money in hand, it was handed back to him. He was told that the dogs were his, free of charge, and that they could finally be together once more.
“This is unbelievable,” he said, crying. “Thank you.”
“The two babies are doing fine,” he said the next day. “I let them stay in bed with me last night, until they pushed me into the floor.”
“I didn’t think I would have my dogs back. This is the best Christmas ever.”
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