Navy vet sobs at reunion with dogs, viral video inspires donations

A few weeks ago, it was reported that James Pack, a Delaware man and Vietnam war veteran, had a surprising and tear-filled reunion with the two dogs he had to give up to the First State Animal Center and SPCA in Camden. If you watch the reunion video, recorded by PetSmart staffer Lindsay Marie, it’s impossible to not tear up. It was after the video of that reunion went viral that a GoFundMe went up to try to help out James even more. Within 12 days, people who were touched by his story, and the video that accompanied it, filled the fund to overflowing, and today it was closed, with the words, “Hi everyone thank you for all your donations, since we have more than reached our goals we are closing down the gofundme page. Thank you again!!!”

If you missed the original report, James had suffered a massive heart attack in September, and his dogs were taken to the shelter for safekeeping, while he recuperated. He was told at the time that his dogs, Bailey and Blaze, would eventually go up for adoption. Due to James’ health, he was unsure if he could ever reclaim them. While the weeks passed, he lost everything, including his home.

But he never stopped calling the shelter to check on his babies. Even while he was barely able to speak, he would check on them from his hospital room. Though dogs are usually held for five days, the shelter held them far longer than that. James kept telling them that he was coming to get them, and promised to do so when he got back on his feet. On December 16, he was able to do just that, and walked into the shelter to put down the deposit to bring his furkids home. Even if he had to sell his car, he told the shelter he would come up with the money to pay the rest of the bill.

A kennel tech, Melissa Eagle, was at the shelter that day. She was overwhelmed, but not surprised, by the joy Mr. Pack and his dogs showed toward each other at this long awaited reunion. Ms. Eagle started reaching out to people to get donations to pay off James’ fees. It seems as if this shelter has many angels; Rebecca, the office manager, had already halved the outstanding fees. Very quickly, the bill was paid in full by friends and staffers, with additional gifts of pet supplies and gift cards made ready for Mr. Pack. And James had no idea all this was going on. Shortly, Bailey and Blaze were moved to their adoption center at the Dover PetSmart, which is where the viral video of their reunion was recorded by Lindsay Marie. And it was that video, which hit more than two million views in 48 hours, that Ms. Eagle used on the GoFundMe. With more than 1,000 shares logged, the clip touched the hearts of many, and helped push the $5,000 fund target over the top by more than $2,000.

When James went to check on the dogs on December 17 at PetSmart, he was obviously unaware of everything that had been done behind the scenes to reunite him with his family. The reunion video is worth more than 1,000 words. More than 21 million viewers agree. To describe it here would lessen its impact, so please watch for yourself. His joy is priceless, as is that of his dogs. There wasn’t a dry eye in PetSmart, that day, as James raised his hands to heaven in thanks. We are thrilled that three-year-old Blaze, and his sister Bailey, who turned two on Christmas, went home with James, and hope they had a very happy holiday and have a wonderful new year. We hope one of your resolutions for the new year is adopt, don’t shop.


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