Free Pet Adoptions for Military a Howling Success

Nearly 100 pets are settling down into their new homes after a Memorial Day weekend adoption special waived fees to military members, their families and veterans.

An organization called Animals for Armed Forces picked up the adoption fees. County Animal Services added vaccinations, spay/neuter, a microchip, licensing and a free veterinary exam.

Michael Rodriguez of Spring Valley found out about the special Wednesday, scouted out the shelter in Bonita Thursday, bought leashes, beds and other doggie necessities, and was first in line for the military adoption special on Friday.

PetsforVets_2017_MRodriguez_Daughter_1600pxThe 39-year-old Navy veteran even arrived early with his 2-year-old daughter in tow. He got just the dog he wanted: a 1-year-old dachshund poodle blend.

His wife had wanted a dachshund and his live-in sister-in-law had wanted a poodle.

“My wife calls me Dr. Doolittle because animals are drawn to me,” said Rodriguez. “This (promotion) could not be more perfect.”

The pooch had come into the shelter with another dog, but that second one was adopted shortly afterward. The remaining dog began suffering serious separation issues. Shelter staff told Rodriguez this animal would need a lot of attention.

“From being in the military, I understand how it is to be isolated and lonely because you’re away from home,” said Rodriguez.

In the Navy, he was a personnel specialist on board U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. Rodriguez left the Navy in 2006 but he still feels like something isn’t quite right. Two weeks ago, a therapist told him to get a dog.

“I need that comfort and that companionship,” said Rodriguez. “I get that from my wife, friends and family but it’s on a different level with a dog.”

While talking, the dog began whimpering and Rodriguez comforted his new pet.

“It’s OK, it’s OK,” he said.

Rodriguez said he read up on the traits of these kinds of dogs.

“Once attached, they are loyal and they follow you,” said Rodriguez. “That’s the kind of person I am, loyal and true. And a cuddler!”

Rodriguez says his new pet will also help him become more outgoing.

For his part, Rodriguez says he wants to do the best he can for his dog.

Sounds like a match.

Dozens of animals are still looking for good homes. To see if one might fit into your family, visit County Animal Services webpage. The shelters are open from 9:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact