Alabama company goes all out to bring hero dogs home from war
(Video above: How AMK9 got roughly 100 hero dogs back home)
When veterans come home from war, we celebrate and honor their service and help them readjust to civilian life. One Alabama company is doing that same thing for America’s four-legged veterans.
AMK9, based in Anniston, recently transported 92 service dogs back to the United States from the Middle East. The logistics of bringing so many animals on the 7,000-mile journey was unprecedented, but AMK9 was up for the challenge.
“[These dogs] are a critical part of what we do every day around the world. And this is the way we take care of them,” said Pete Owen, VP of Operations. Most of these dogs will be adopted and spend their retirement as family pets. A few dogs will be reassigned to jobs in the US that are similar to the work they did overseas.
For years, AMK9 has been fundamental in starting the careers of military dogs, but now they are helping them at the end of their careers as well.
Transporting 92 dogs 7,000 miles across a number of different countries, with multiple customs checks and potentials for delays, would be enough to make anyone’s head spin. But AMK9 went all out and did extensive research to prepare for the journey. The team coordinated with veterinary clinics along the way to ensure they had the capabilities to deal with any issue for any dog.
The dogs flew in to New York City where they were fed, watered, and given a medical examination. Once they were all cleared, they were loaded up for the final leg of their journey: a 955-mile drive from New York City to Anniston. With bathroom breaks and refueling the trucks, the trip took two whole days.
Once they arrived in Anniston, the dogs had to be broken in to their new civilian life. Each dog takes hours of work and manpower to retrain. Having to train 92 dogs at once changed the entire scope of the work. But AMK9 planned down to the smallest detail. Every person knew exactly what his or her job was and how it fit in the larger picture, making this undertaking an undeniable success.
Thirty-eight of the dogs were immediately ready to transition into retired life. AMK9 partnered with Piper’s Rescue, a local rescue pet adoption program, to find the right homes for these hero dogs. The dogs were adopted out to families all over the country, even as far as Wyoming. Piper’s Rescue researched the medical history and work history of each dog to help them find the right home for retirement.
“It feels really good to see the slow process of them transforming from working dog to family pet, from them realizing that they don’t have to go, go, go every day; they don’t have to work and save people’s lives,” explained Sara Hare, owner of Piper’s Rescue. “They can just be loving, and they can just be spoiled and have these people love on them for the rest of their lives.”
The employees of AMK9 recognize the importance of the work they have done. Finding homes for these retired military dogs not only changes their lives, but also the lives of the families who adopt them.
John Wertjes, Chief Operating Officer, came to work for AMK9 because of the rewarding work they do. “A lot of people want to do something that makes a difference in the world, and we get to do that.”
(Video below: Yellowhammer goes inside AMK9’s operation)