"A tough-as-nails Iraq war vet is locked in a fight with U.S. military bureaucrats over her attempts to adopt the bomb-sniffing German shepherd that served by her side during two tours of duty.
Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey and the fearless pooch, Rex, were nearly killed by a roadside bomb blast in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006, according to reports.
The blast ended Leavey's career as a Marine.
The Rockland County native tried to adopt her former K-9 sidekick before her retirement in 2007, when it appeared that the military was ready to let Rex hang up his dog tags as well.
"Rex is my partner; I love him," Leavey, 28, told MSNBC. "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 was eventually denied after military brass determined he was still fit to serve.
Leavey, who works as a dog handler in Rockport, kept up with Rex at his kennel at Camp Pendleton, Calif., until about a month ago, when she learned that the 10-year-old pup had developed facial paralysis and had to be retired, the Journal News reported.
Leavey submitted the adoption paper work, but has been tangled in military red tape ever since.
Officials from the Military Working Dog Program, overseen by the Air Force, told MSNBC the adoption process is expected to take several more weeks.
If Leavey's request is denied, Rex could be put to sleep.
"As a safety precaution, they don't give all dogs away," Leavey told the Journal News. "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."
"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," she added.
On Friday, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., stepped in with a statement urging Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley to reunite the two "American heroes."
"Marine Corporal Leavey and Rex are true American heroes who saved countless American lives uncovering roadside bombs and booby traps in Iraq," Schumer said. "I'm strongly urging the Air Force to do the right thing, cross the T's and dot the I's so that Rex gets the home he deserves, and Corporal Leavey can be reunited with her faithful companion."
Leavy said she hopes Schumer's involvement would be the final step in bringing Rex to New York for good, where she'd enjoy the company of her two other dogs, Rocky and Patriot.
"I know the Marine Corps has other more important issues. But it's important to me," she told MSNBC. "And [Rex] deserves it."
Read more: Former Marine battles military to let her adopt ex-bomb sniffing battle dog * - NY Daily News
Bring this dog home and sign the petition here
Senator Charles E. Schumer