Marine and dog bonded by war, divided by red tape

by Rebecca on March 17, 2012

in Animals in the News

Megan Leavey

Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey with Sgt. Rex, a dog trained to detect explosives, contraband and bombs. The photo was taken in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006.

By Kari Huus,

The dog handler and the bomb-sniffing German shepherd Rex served together for more than three years and through two deployments until a roadside bomb blast in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006 took them out of commission. Leavey, now recovered and discharged from the Marines, is battling to adopt her old canine-in-arms.

“Rex is my partner; I love him,” said Leavey, 28, who lives with her father in Rockport, New York, and works as a dog handler. “We have been through so much together … I’ve spent day and night with this dog. It’s a very strong bond.”

But the dog’s discharge has proved more complicated than her own. Leavey first applied to adopt Sgt. Rex as she was completing her Marine Corps service in 2007. She did all the paperwork, she said, but the military determined the dog had recovered completely and was still fit for work, and has continued up to now.

Sgt. Rex has become something of a celebrity along the way, featured in a 2011 book by his first handler, Mike Dowling, called “Sgt. Rex: The Unbreakable Bond between a Marine and his Military Working Dog.”

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