[UPDATED 2] MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Marine reunited with canine partner Sgt Rex

Marine Cpl. Meagan Leavey and her canine partner, Sgt. Rex, were trained to detect roadside bombs and other materials. Now, she's trying to adopt him before he's put to sleep.

‘REX is my partner. I love him’ – Retired marine fights to adopt military dog before it’s put to sleep.

The Blaze  Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey served with her four-legged partner Sgt. Rex through two tours in Iraq, completing hundreds of missions searching for roadside bombs until an insurgent explosion took them both out of service.

More than five years later, Leavey, 28, is fighting to adopt the dog she handled since her earliest days as a Marine before the German shepherd is put to sleep.

“Rex is my partner, I love him,” Leavey, who lives with her father in Rockport, N.Y. and works as a dog handler, told MSNBC. “We have been through so much together…I’ve spent day and night with this dog. It’s a very strong bond.”

Leavey was discharged in Dec. 2007, but Rex — considered a valuable work dog — was put back in service after he recovered from his injuries. That was until a month ago, when he was diagnosed with a kind of nerve paralysis that left him unable to serve, the Westchester Journal News reported.

It’s now a race against the clock as Leavey struggles to cut through military red tape and adopt Rex before he is put down. “As a safety precaution, they don’t give all dogs away,” she told the Journal News. She said Rex, a strong “alpha dog,” never hurt anyone he wasn’t supposed to.

“The dilemma with me is the minute they say he can’t be adopted, because he‘s sick and because he can’t work, they’d have to put him to sleep,” she said. “Not because he’s too sick to live a good life, but because they can‘t utilize him so it wouldn’t make sense for them to keep a dog they’re not going to work at the kennels. I don’t want to let that happen.”

But time is ticking, she said. “This is not [the Marines’] first priority,” Leavey told New York Fox affiliate WNYW-TV. “A lot of times it gets lost in the shuffle.”

To help speed the process up, she reached out to veteran’s organizations and to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who oversees military service dog training. In the letter, Schumer detailed the relationship Leavey and Rex had and credited them with saving countless lives, according to the Journal News. (The first good thing  Chuckie Cheese Shumer has done in his entire career)

If Leavey’s request is granted, Rex will enjoy a sizable home with a fenced-in yard. Until she hears more, all she can do is wait. “It’s a partnership,” Leavey told the newspaper. “I feel like I know Rex so well. I’m so looking forward to seeing him again.”

BNI READER Barbara kindly gave us a link to Baghdad Pups. I’m going to write to them and see if they can help with this. Maybe you can too: OPERATION BAGHDAD PUPS

BNI contacted SPCA Global Animal Rescue (Operation Baghdad Pups) re: helping Meagan and Rex, and this is their response:

Hi Bonni,

Thank you for contacting SPCA International. We fully support Megan Leavey’s efforts and you can read more about this story on our website at:http://www.spcai.org/index.php/news-and-blog/spcai-news/item/722-spca-international-supports-megan-leavey.html

“SPCA International fully supports the efforts of ex-Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey who is trying to adopt the bomb-sniffing dog, Rex, she served with in Iraq. After years of service, Rex is being retired by the military and now goes up for adoption. 

Placing Rex with Megan is a logical choice, so that he can live-out his retirement with an old friend.  SPCA International is extremely happy to hear that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is working to cut red tape and expedite the process of getting Rex and Megan reunited.  We expect that the Marines will release Rex to Megan quickly, and we will continue to follow the story in case there is anything SPCA International can do to help make this reunion a reality.”

Thank you for your concern and support!

Sincerely,

SPCA International Staff 

An injured Marine and Purple Heart recipient has won a campaign to adopt the wounded combat dog she partnered with in Iraq.

FOX NEWS  The U.S. Air Force has agreed to release the dog, Sgt. Rex, into the care of  former Cpl. Megan Leavey, 28,  so that the two can live a civilian life together, MyFoxNY.com reports. 

Leavey and Sgt. Rex were injured in 2006 while disarming an explosive IED. After Leavey was discharged in December 2007, she asked to gain custody of the 10-year-old brown German Shepherd that she calls her partner.

Leavey’s first attempt at adopting Sgt. Rex was denied, and he was returned to service after recovering from his injury. But then he was diagnosed with facial palsy and could no longer serve. Leavey grew concerned that he would be put to sleep, so she continued her requests.

The case garnered the attention of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who intervened and sought to help reunite the pair, MyFoxNY.com reports. 

“The Marine Corps has taught me to never give up,” Leavey told MyFoxNY.com. “I haven’t so it’s really paid off.” Sgt. Rex has been credited with saving many lives during his time in service. The pair hunted IEDs in Iraq during two tours of duty.

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