For members of the Military who are deployed overseas, it is common for them to find and befriend local stray dogs in the field. Those dogs are often malnourished and anxious around humans.
“I’ve worked with stray and abandoned dogs before. I could tell these dogs crave a better life and want to trust humans, but they've been abused in the past and are wary of us,” said Sebastian, a soldier who recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan. “I slowly began to earn their trust by feeding them as often as I could, speaking softly and trying to convey kindness. Never a growl, not a trace of aggression, just faith in us humans and the hope we would take care of her.”
Those dogs can quickly become a part of the team, joining them on missions and boosting morale while they are serving our country away from their family and friends in return.
But returning home with those beloved four-legged companions can feel like an impossible mission, forcing them to leave their dogs behind.
Enter No Dog Gets Left Behind, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial support to reunite Military personnel with the stray animals they found and bonded with while at war. The organization was founded by Trish Gohl who was inspired by the Military Channel’s “No Dog Left Behind” documentary that featured Military reunion stories with animals they found overseas.
“The soldier and the dog have shared many similar experiences being in a war zone,” said Gohl. “The human-animal bond is so strong out in the field and it can help with the healing process once they’re back here in the U.S.”
But, those reunions are no easy task. Depending on where the dog is transported from, Gohl said it can cost between $3,500 and $4,500 to bring them to the U.S.
The cost covers veterinary care, vaccinations, spay and neuter procedures, microchips and an escort to accompany the dog across international waters. It’s also common for the pet to complete long periods of time in quarantine along the way.
Despite the logistical challenges, Gohl said it’s all worth it to support servicemen and women. To date, No Dog Gets Left Behind has funded over 50 dogs from overseas with the help of generous donors like PetSmart Charities, who donated a $5,000 field grant in early July.
“I was introduced to No Dog Gets Left Behind by a store leader,” said District Leader Webb Allen. “After speaking with Trish, I was immediately inspired by their mission and their commitment to support the human-animal bond. They’re a small but mighty group that is making an impact on the lives of pets in need and servicemen and women. Our district is proud to support them.” Gohl said, “The support from PetSmart Charities allows us to help more soldiers unite with their dogs here in the United States. We’re grateful for their partnership.”