Molli Oliver, a flight attendant for United Airlines, has made it her mission to reunite retired military dogs with their handlers.
Oliver started the mission last year when a retired soldier told her he was still sorrowful five years after being away from his military dog.
Several of Oliver’s family members had served in the military, so she has deep admiration for military personnel. She is also affectionate towards dogs. “I love the dogs, and I love my military that’s taken care of my freedom my whole life, so it’s a win-win to combine the two,” Oliver said.
In her mission, Oliver travels throughout the country – all at her own expense. Her fifth success was the reuniting of Army sergeant Tom Hansen who hadn’t seen Taylor, a newly retired military dog, for two years. The two were partners in Afghanistan.
As reported by the San Francisco Globe, Hansen has partnered with Oliver to form a non-profit aimed at continuing Oliver’s mission. The two have started a crowd-funding page calling Reuniting Battle Buddies at YouCaring.com.
That moment a soldier reunites with their dog is precious, Oliver said. “It’s overwhelming for them,” she said. “It’s a part of them that’s been missing.”
Doug Miller, working dog manager for the Department of Defense, said that there are as many as 1,700 dogs in the military across all branches. An additional 800 to 1,000 are in kennels for training or medical reasons, according to Military.com. Majority of the dogs help in patrol to detect drugs and explosives.
Military dogs are passed through several handlers. Although the final handler acquires the dog when it retires, previous handlers can also put in a request for adoption. If more than one handlers request for the dog, Miller said they are selected “based on the best interest of the dog.”
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