PHOTOS: Marine Megan Leavey wants to adopt, save Sergeant Rex

Sergeant Rex.

An upstate New York Marine is on a mission to save the dog that served alongside her in Iraq.
 
Marine Corporal Megan Leavey of Rockland County, NY, is desperately trying to adopt Sergeant Rex, a German Shepherd military working dog. When Leavey served two tours in Iraq, the two were a team tasked with identifying and disabling roadside bombs.

In 2006, both Leavey and Rex were injured by an explosive. She was discharged with a Purple Heart, but Rex recovered from his wounds and continued to serve. Now that Rex is 10 years old and is in declining health, Leavey, who has fully recovered from her injuries, wants him to live out his remaining dog years with her.

But the clock is ticking.

In order for working dogs to be adopted, they must be thoroughly vetted by the military to determine if they’re a danger to the public, Air Force spokesman Gerry Proctor said.

Because Rex was a patrol dog, he had to undergo a videotaped “bite test” that will be reviewed by an animal behaviorist who will make a final recommendation. As part of the test, the dog is introduced to an ordinary circumstance — such as meeting another dog — to see how he responds. Some dogs are put down after they serve because they are deemed too dangerous, Proctor said.
 
“They should know the results within the next day or so,” Proctor said.

A soldier’s best friend

Military dogs are invaluable in the field, Air Force spokesman Gerry Proctor said.

“They are the tip of the spear in the war on terror,” said Proctor. “They can do things that no human or machine can even come close to doing.”

But beyond their military uses, some say the bond between a soldier and his dog is very strong.
 
“These animals are soldiers. No one in America would expect a soldier to leave another soldier behind,” said Barbara Teasdale, 60, of San Francisco, founder of Vets Adopt Pets, an organization that works to unite veterans and animals.

The life of a military dog

The military breeds about 120 puppies each year and there are currently 2,700 dogs serving alongside U.S. troops worldwide, Air Force spokesman Gerry Proctor said. Half the animals are German Shepherds, 25 percent are Belgian Malinois and the other 25 percent are sporting breeds like labs and mutts.

The dogs are then trained for the following tasks:

Patrol dog: these dogs are trained for four months to attack and detect narcotics or explosives. Rex is a patrol dog.

Specialized search dog: these dogs are trained for 95 days to works off-leash from their handlers and are trained to sniff out IEDs.

Combat tracker dog: these Marine Corps dogs are trained for 45 days to track humans, like enemy insurgents.

Last year, more than 320 working military dogs were put up for adoption and around 8 were put to sleep via a chemical injection, Proctor said.

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyAEpstein.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Local

NYPD arrest man after finding body inside plastic…

Police said they found a man stuffed inside a plastic container in a Brooklyn home. Authorities arrested Joshua Simser, 24, in connection to the death

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.