Update: Zeus is now safe, on U.S. soil. Thank you for your support and caring about our troops and their four-footed friends. At this time, specifics on Zeus cannot be provided due to the fragility of the current situation from where he was rescued. Should you wish to make a donation to Guardians of Rescue for this or future rescue efforts, here is their general fund link. The link to donate specifically for Zeus is now closed.
There are just a handful of groups based in the U.S. and overseas that assist soldiers in bringing home their canine battle buddies. The videos that you may have seen, such as these, pack a huge emotional wallop. As you can see, a soldier waits anxiously at the airport for his battle buddy to arrive from overseas, and they greet each other with overwhelming joy. Usually they are official military working dogs coming home to their handlers. Recently those dogs had their paths from the front lines to the home front eased when President Obama signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act in November, 2015. That measure changed the rules on adopting military dogs and other animals, making it easier for former handlers and families of injured handlers to adopt them when they retired from service. But what about the animals who are not ‘government issue’, those who were born in-country and taken in by our servicemen and women on deployment? If you believe that they, too, should have a chance to live together in peace in the U.S., and would like to help give them that chance, please share the story of Zeus and Steven, foundexclusively here in Examiner.
Safely bringing animals to the U.S. from overseas is never easy. The transport costs can be very high, and the journey itself may be quite perilous. These animals had been, or still are, living with soldiers housed in enemy territories. Political situations change from minute to minute. Many times, the success of the mission to bring the animals out of harm’s way depends on the kindness of strangers, who anonymously donate the funds to help thank those who serve our country. These animals, who have been befriended by our deployed servicemen, make their tours of duty a little more humane, a little more tolerable. Many times the animals had never known love until they met our warriors. The animals simply existed, ignored by the populace and eating whatever scraps they could find in order to survive.
Our brave soldiers take in these animals; they live with them, care for them, feed them, make them part of their family. It’s all out of their own pockets, their own rations. The strong bond formed between them is emotional and physical. There are many stories of dogs such as these saving the lives of entire squadrons, sometimes giving their lives to save their humans. And when their deployment ends, these soldiers may search for ways to bring home this member of their extended family. It’s very frustrating, and extremely saddening for them, when they know that leaving their adopted buddies behind may put them in harm’s way. If there is no one to care for the animals once they leave the base, they will either perish from starvation, be killed by other animals, or suffer and die by the hand of the enemy.
One of our soldiers whom I shall only call ‘Steven‘, to keep him and his fellow warriors safe, was stationed in a country, which also must remain nameless right now, for security reasons. Steven’s deployment recently came to an end, and he was desperately trying to find a way to bring home his buddy, Zeus, an adorable German Shepherd puppy who had been keeping Steven’s spirits up since last year. There were two puppies being cared for by Steven and one of his fellow soldiers; unfortunately, one of the pups was killed by stray dogs in the mountains. Steven’s mom, ‘Anne’, would do anything to help her son. She worked for the V.F.W. for fifteen years.
When Steven enlisted, she worried constantly about him; now she worried about Zeus as well. Had it been feasible, she would have flown over into this heavily militarized, unfriendly country, picked up Zeus, and flown him back to the U.S., just to get him safe, and make her son happy. However, his mom was unable to afford anything close to what this would cost, and she began reaching out for advice.
She privately contacted this Examiner after reading a number of articles published in her Animal Rescue columnregarding soldiers dogs and dogs being brought into America from other countries. This Examiner agreed to help Anne, and began reaching out to a number of personal contacts whom she had developed, individuals and groups who she knew were experienced with in-country rescues of animals. But this situation was going to be more challenging than past rescue operations. It called for almost total secrecy. No publicity, no media attention, no donations until the mission was nearly complete. So this Examiner contacted the New York based group, Guardians of Rescue (GoR).
GoR has been on the forefront of organizing multiple overseas rescues of soldiers pups and other dogs living in peril, and transporting them to safety. They hold fundraisers such as this one, which will be held January 24 in NY, to help defray some of the costs involved in various rescue efforts. They have contacts and supporters willing to donate their time to save these animals. You might remember Shai, the blind German Shepherd who they brought out of Egypt. With help from donors around the globe who were distraught and angered by the photographs of the heartbreaking condition in which he was found, and after receiving expert medical care, it was reported here that Shai, a short time after he arrived in the U.S., was able to see once again.
When the rescue was contacted by this Examiner for help with Steve and Zeus, GoR immediately stepped up to the plate, and started investigating how they could retrieve the puppy and bring him home to the U.S. All the parties involved knew that should word of Steve’s efforts to try to get his dog to safety be leaked to the opposing forces in the country in which he was based, it is almost certain that the pup would be killed. That would devastate Steve, his mom, and everyone currently working behind the scenes. After much discussion, a plan was put in place to bring home this friendly, healthy pup.
This is where supporters of our brave soldiers can help out. GoR would appreciate any donations you can give to help defray the high costs involved with this mission. You can donate on this secure blue link. The country in question is not Afghanistan, where GoR already has a reliable network of contacts. It is a country where GoR has no one to assist them on the ground, other than Steven, himself. This is a country where GoR has never attempted a rescue mission. They appreciate any financial assistance you can offer.
GoR recently informed this Examiner that Zeus is now safe, but he is still living in-country in a secret location; he is not yet back in the U.S. The first part of this journey was filled with gut-churning tension. The travel situation became exceedingly precarious. GoR’s representative has been with them since 2012, and is a specialist in transporting K9’s throughout the world. When informed that the political situation in the country in question was quickly disintegrating and becoming very hazardous, he jumped on a flight much sooner than planned, so his window of opportunity to rescue Zeus would not close. After landing at the airport, he had his luggage stolen. Then he was advised by the American Embassy to leave that country immediately, due to extremely strained security issues. But he refused to leave without Zeus.
He traveled nine hours in-country to pick up the dog, who already had already been vetted with proper medical certification to enable him to travel back to the U.S. As with all his operations for GoR, this specialist is donating his time to this rescue mission. And it is definitely a rescue mission. Zeus’ traveling companion is a well-trained, former member of one of America’s most military elite squadrons. But the financial costs to move the dog to safety and bring him home are extensive. They are not using this as a fundraiser for their group. This is only to get Zeus home, and give one U.S. soldier a fantastic gift for the New Year. If you can help, please donate here to this fundraiser. They willget Zeus home, whatever it takes. After the mission is completed, Examiner will be able to post additional information that, for now, must remain extremely confidential. If there are any photos or video available when Zeus is on American soil, you can be certain that it will be published here, for readers and subscribers to follow.
Any one of us can be a part of this journey to freedom. Steven and Zeus thank you for your support.