Tags: Afghanistan | Exclusive Interviews | Middle East | MidPoint | War on Terrorism | Soldiers | stray dogs

US Soldiers Reunited With Adopted Stray Dogs From Afghanistan

By    |   Wednesday, 08 April 2015 08:33 PM

An animal rescue activist who is reuniting U.S. service members with stray dogs they befriended in Afghanistan says the program has brought great joy to combat veterans who thought they would never again see the adopted "battle buddies" they couldn't bring home.

But "No Buddy Left Behind," an effort launched by the animal welfare nonprofit Guardians of Rescue, is also very expensive — up to $4,000 per rescue — and in need of donations if more dogs and troops are to be reunited, founder Robert Misseri told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

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Soldiers in Afghanistan "encounter stray dogs that live out in the wild and have to fend for themselves in this war-torn area, and many of our service members save them, adopt them, protect them, and of course fall in love with them," said Misseri, whose organization has longstanding ties to the U.S. military.

"Then there's the time where they have to separate," he said, "because the service members have to come back stateside, leaving those animals once again to fend for themselves, and that weighs very, very, very heavy on their hearts when they know they have to leave them behind."

"I speak to a lot of veterans that had to leave those dogs behind, and they can't get it out of their head five years later," he said.

In a poor country whose populace doesn't revere dogs the way Americans do, and often uses them for dog fighting, which is popular in Afghanistan, Guardians of Rescue still has managed to locate and partner with an Afghan animal shelter, called Nowzad, said Misseri.

Guardians and Nowzad arrange for troops' adoptive pets to be sheltered and quarantined in Kabul, "and then we start working on getting them back here to be reunited with those service members," said Misseri.

The process is "extremely expensive," he said, because "the fees for the airlines are extremely costly, and the average cost is between $3,500 and $4,000 per dog."

Nowzad's founder will help lower transport costs on an upcoming run by flying out of Afghanistan with one group of U.S.-bound dogs designated as excess cargo, said Misseri.

But that option isn't always available, and the normal procedure is to fly the dogs individually from Kabul to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where they are quarantined again before being put aboard a plane to the U.S., said Misseri.

"So, it is costly, unfortunately," he said, but he described the payoff as rewarding.

"The last time we brought a dog back for a service member, his exact words were, 'The last time I was this happy was when my daughter was born,'" said Misseri. "It's overwhelming for them. They don't even believe it until they actually see it, that that dog is back with them here."

"They've gone through so much together," said Misseri. "They witnessed horrific things together. They've spent, I'm sure, restless nights together. They went on missions together, and even though these are not trained dogs, these have become their battle buddies, in a sense. To have them back here with them is just something."

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An animal rescue activist who is reuniting U.S. service members with stray dogs they befriended in Afghanistan says the program has brought great joy to combat veterans who thought they would never again see the adopted "battle buddies" they couldn't bring home.
Soldiers, stray dogs, reunited, Afghanistan, adopted, Robert Misseri, rescue, Midpoint, No Buddy Left Behind
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2015-33-08
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 08:33 PM
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