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Veteran is reunited with service dog he fought alongside

Veteran Is Reunited With Service Dog He Fought Alongside

They say the bonds between brothers-in-arms are stronger than any other, especially when that bond is between man and man's best friend. KUSA introduces us to retired Marine Cpl. Matt Foster and Mick.

"Physically and emotionally, he kept me going over there. He deserves the world, and I plan on giving that to him," Foster said.

Foster reunited with Mick on August 8th -- the service dog he teamed up with in Afghanistan to detect bombs. The pair completed more than 180 patrols, spending eight months together. They'd been apart for more than a year until Mick recently retired.

Although the two were reportedly inseparable while in combat, Foster's journey to adopt Mick was its own challenge. The U.S. military considers service dogs to be equipment and often leaves the animals to be adopted by locals or taken into shelters when they retire.

That's why Foster teamed with the American Humane Association and Mission K9 Rescue -- a partnership that strives to reunite military dogs and their handlers.

Mission K9 Rescue's president told The Denver Post: "Every one of these handlers I've talked to has a piece missing when they come back. This is a part of the healing process. You can see it on [Foster's] face right now."

American Humane Association CEO Robin Ganzert added that besides reuniting handlers with their service dogs, they are currently working with the Air Force to change its position on dogs as equipment in official manuals.

The war on terror marked a shift in enemy strategy. With hidden improvised explosive devices preferred by enemy combatants over actual combat, service dogs were needed more than ever.

According to National Geographic, at the height of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, an estimated 2,500 dogs were on the ground. In Vietnam, 4,000 dogs were used -- most of which were left in the country.

A nonprofit organization that aims to honor service dogs says other countries' militaries honor dogs in ways more similar to humans. For example, in Great Britain the Dickin Medal honors the work and sacrifices of animals in war. During WWII, the U.S. awarded service dogs Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars, but the medals were later revoked.

Many argue that reuniting retired service dogs with their handlers is not only doing right by the animals, but it also helps the veterans.

A Forbes article cites veterans' risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicide. Veterans groups have said for every soldier killed by enemy combatants, 25 veterans end their own lives.

A Smithsonian Magazine article says there's good evidence dogs can help veterans overcome mental scarring. Dogs not only soothed veterans in studies, but they also they changed them biologically. The dogs helped the humans produce the hormone oxytocin, which has been linked to feelings of trust and decreases feelings of paranoia.

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Join the discussion

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millenniumfarm August 11 2014 at 7:35 AM

'Adopted by locals' my a**! They just dump them and leave them to starve or not. What do you think happens to them in a war zone? It's a shamful practice that should be changed!

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2 replies
kabube millenniumfarm August 11 2014 at 8:23 AM

At the end of the Vietnam War--the vast majority of service dogs were put to sleep. The military/government wants to use and lose these veterans.

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1 reply
hmadden kabube August 11 2014 at 2:29 PM

Sometimes I get the feeling the government would like to do the same with the human vets.

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wbearl millenniumfarm August 12 2014 at 2:59 AM

Contrary to the bull they want you to believe, Muslims consider dogs unclean and won't own one.

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jwilli1251 August 11 2014 at 7:40 AM

Whatever it costs, bring them home.

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niceguy71653 August 11 2014 at 8:23 AM

Service dogs are "surplus" and left behind? This is OUTRAGEOUS. Please write or call your representative in Congress and tell them THIS HAS TO CHANGE. They serve too, and should just be cast off like so much surplus.

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charpist5 August 11 2014 at 6:44 AM

I love reading and watching these stories. And AOL, I mean READING AND WATCHING. I HATE these brittle-voiced, oh-so-precious narrators. Can't you just let us read the article in peace...and can't you put together a video about the STORY and not about the NARRATOR?

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4 replies
chuck August 11 2014 at 10:11 AM

maybe the commands should ask the vets if they want to take their dogs home with them and make it happen so the vets dont have to fight another battle?

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dollibug August 11 2014 at 9:09 AM

These dogs and their masters should be reunited. A dog is like a member of the family and should have a good home after they have *served the country*. I am sure they both can and will benefit each other.

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Cookie August 11 2014 at 10:22 AM

It is outrageous that these highly trained dogs, who save lives every day, are cast off like garbage. They should be returned home and given to their handlers or given to a good home. They are well trained and would make wonderful pets. It's a travesty and I'm surprised there is not a great outcry over this inhumane policy.

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1 reply
deebeck7765 Cookie August 11 2014 at 2:44 PM

Hey...the President has a dog...and he obviously loves it. For God's sake...flood the damned White House with emails.
Do something...other than blather on aol.

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onemadashell August 11 2014 at 10:03 AM

" The U.S. military considers service dogs to be equipment and often leaves the animals to be adopted by locals or taken into shelters when they retire. "

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1 reply
goldie841 onemadashell August 11 2014 at 9:58 PM

amen !

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b731 August 11 2014 at 8:45 AM

We need to bring these dogs home and reunite them with their handler. If the handler doesn't want at least place them with a caring family. We had to put our black lab down a few days ago due to a untreatable cancer. He was only 9 years old and a rescue dog. It was the hardest thing I had to do in a long time. He was happy to the end. The tumor had grown to the size of a grapefruit in a very short time making it hard to walk. I miss him. Some people may not realize how attached you can get. It's like losing a part of your family. Bring these dogs home. They deserve it.

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3 replies
aristocat101 August 11 2014 at 8:34 AM

Wonderful story I am so happy they are together again.

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