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

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.