A combat dog will finally be reunited in retirement with the ex-Marine handler with whom it was wounded in Iraq.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer told The Associated Press on Monday night that the Air Force has agreed to release Sgt. Rex into the care of former Cpl. Megan Leavey, of Rockland County, just north of New York City.
Leavey was injured with Rex in 2006 while trying to disarm an explosive. They convalesced together.
Rex is credited with saving lives and uncovering explosives that saved more.
Schumer had intervened when Leavey, a Purple Heart recipient, was first denied in her effort to adopt Rex in 2007. Rex was returned to service after he and Leavey had recovered from their injuries.
Now Rex, a black and brown German Shepherd, is 10 years old and can't continue his military service, but Schumer said bureaucracy still stood in the way of the adoption.
"We salute the Air Force and the Marines for doing the right thing and allowing Rex to be with Corporal Leavey," Schumer said Monday night. "One canine, one human, both heroes. They should be united shortly, and we're glad it's happening."
There was no immediate comment from the Air Force public affairs office Monday night.
"Four years is a long time to wait for something like that," Leavey said Monday. "Every day it wears on you. But the Marine Corps has taught me, you know, don't give up, and I haven't. So it's really paid off."
Schumer, a Democrat, had sought to help Leavey cut through red tape to reunite the pair. He also started a national online petition to help persuade the Air Force to act quicker.
"It's only appropriate and right that the two of them enjoy their retirement from the service together," Schumer said. "I again want to thank the Air Force and Marines for moving so quickly, and I want to thank the thousands of New Yorkers and Americans who showed their support online."
Leavey recently told MSNBC that Rex is her partner and she loves him.
"We have been through so much together," she said. "... I've spent day and night with this dog. It's a very strong bond."
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