Fort Worth

Homeless dogs help disabled vet make a difference

Three years ago, Jazzy’s future looked uncertain as she struggled with a crushed paw at the Humane Society of North Texas in Fort Worth.

Last year, much of Brownie’s life had been spent at Tarrant County animal shelters. And earlier this year, Patches was a bloody mess.

But the three young dogs found a savior in 60-year-old Carl Hall, a widowed, disabled Army veteran who, besides caring for his own pups, locates dogs for veterans.

In the last three years, Hall has located 20 potential therapy dogs for veterans. He’s used his past military training with dogs as a springboard to help veterans across the country unite with dogs. He already was involved with several veteran groups and associations before he started locating dogs.

“I get calls from friends and people at the VA telling me their dog just had pups,” Hall said one recent morning as he sat in his back yard with Patches, Jazzy and Brownie. “I go down, look at them and decide if they have what it takes to be a therapy dog. I guess with all the years I’ve had dogs, I can tell which ones will make it.”

Hall recorded 2,864 parachute jumps while he was in the Army, most of them with his scout dog, Rocky. He was critically injured in a free fall in 1984 when his parachute malfunctioned and his second one opened too late.

He eventually recovered and left the military.

Hall wasn’t looking for a dog when Jazzy came along in 2013. His wife, Dolores, had died, and four months later the family’s golden chow, Bear, had also passed.

But longtime friend Peggy Brown with the Humane Society of North Texas in Fort Worth had other ideas.

“I knew the minute she came to us she was the right one for him,” Brown said. Jazzy, a yellow Labrador retriever/Australian shepherd mix, had come to the Fort Worth shelter from a Johnson County facility. “She had a crushed paw. We believe that she had it caught in a door, and I knew she would need special care.”

Brown called Hall. Until then he had only owned male dogs, but he decided to drive to Fort Worth and take a look at Jazzy.

“I sat down in a chair and she jumped right in my lap, and didn’t move,” Hall said. “I guess I had a dog.”

Several months later, Hall decided Jazzy needed a friend, so the two of them returned to the Humane Society of North Texas.

“We must have looked over nine dogs before we came to Brownie,” Hall said. The Australian shepherd/brown Lab mix had spent several months in animal shelters. “Jazzy took one look and we had a new friend.”

The two wayward pups brought love and laughter back into Hall’s life. Hall, Jazzy and Brownie also have continued to work to help veterans in Texas and throughout the country.

A third member, Patches, a pit bull, joined the family a few months ago.

“She came up to the front yard one day and I fed her, but she was gone for a week,” Hall said. “When she came back, she was a bloody mess.”

Brown believes Patches had been used as a bait dog to train other canines in dog fights.

He took Patches to his veterinarian and nursed her back to health. Now she’s a fixture at Hall’s home. Will he keep collecting dogs?

“Oh no, there won’t be fourth,” Hall said, smiling. “This is my family now.”

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr