It may not be commonly known that dogs serve our country in times of need alongside our soldiers. And they do more than act as companions — they protect their own and save lives.
Just as our human veterans receive solace and support when they return home, so too should our canine warriors. But sadly, that is not always what happens. Case in point, these 12 veteran dogs that were sent to a kennel in Chester, Virginia, with no future plan for them in sight.
They were delivered to Greg Meredith, owner of Mount Hope Kennel, back in February 2014 and have been there ever since. They originally belonged to the Department of Defense and were bought by a contract company that planned to use them as therapy dogs, but the plan just fell through. Since then, Meredith has been caring for them on his own dollar, and costs have mounted past the $150,000 mark.
Thankfully, a not-for-profit organization called Mission K9 Rescue, which specializes in placing working and veteran dogs with families, recently stepped in to help return these guys to their original handlers. The goal is to give them a peaceful retirement after a long and likely tumultuous working life overseas.
It goes hand in hand with the organization’s mission: “We work tirelessly to find these hero dogs a home for them when they retire or are discharged from duty. Many people don’t know that there are literally thousands of these dogs that have risked it all in the protective service of our military personnel. Our military service dogs have worked to detect bombs, drugs, weaponry and much more. They deserve a chance to rest and play as they move on from their service.”
The leaders of Mission K9 Rescue were incredibly impressed with Meredith’s devotion to these soldiers, despite his financial difficulties. He was also handling animals that were going through bouts of PTSD and trauma, so he needed to exercise a great deal of patience and caution with each one.
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Kristen Maurer, cofounder of Mission K9, commented that “the dogs are in really great shape. This kennel owner could have just abandoned them, but he exercised them and kept them mentally stimulated. The dogs really love him.”
Meredith is just as much of a hero as the veteran dogs he saved. His compassion and care has allowed them to thrive in an otherwise bleak-looking situation. Now with the help of Mission K9 and the United States War Dog Association, he’s finally getting to see many of them reunited with their owners.
So far, they’ve been able to return eight of the 12. Army specialist Ethan Moredue was reunited with his pal Moto that was always by his side on Afghanistan missions. “We used to go out on patrols and search for bombs,” said Moredue to WTVR. “Honestly, to be reunited with him feels like part of the family is home.”
A somewhat more poignant story is that of veteran dog Abby and her handler Jake Carlberg, who sadly passed away in a car accident a year earlier. However, despite their loss, Jake’s family was able to take her in his stead. To say that their reunion was tear-filled is a dramatic understatement.
Jake’s widow, Glenna, told Tristate, “She was his best friend. They did everything together, and everybody in his company loved her. Jake would be happy and proud that we were able to do this.”
The team is on the lookout for the remaining four handlers, so keep checking their Facebook page for more wonderful reunion pictures. If you believe in Meredith and K9 Rescue’s mission, please consider donating to the kennel’s GoFundMe page. Without places like Mount Hope and people like Meredith, these dogs would probably have been forgotten, so let’s do what we can to keep them around to continue their necessary work.