SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Service members in the Middle East are reaching out to an animal rescue group on Long Island to help rescue stray cats and dogs they care for as pets while overseas.

For the last six years, volunteers with the group Guardians of Rescue travel to the Middle East to transport these animals back to the United States for proper care until their owners return home.

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“Service members who are stationed overseas regularly find stray cats and dogs — it gives them that comfort of home, it brings a joy to them each day,” Guardians of Rescue president Robert Misseri told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “They wake up with these animals, they go to sleep with these animals.”

The organization typically uses donation funds to help pay for the risks associated with the trip. However, Misseri said the organization had to send one of their volunteers overseas without help from donors after reports that strays were being killed.

“Death sentences have been issued against animals labeled as “pests;” traps are set and when an animal is caught, sadly, its fate is sealed. Trapping is non-selective — “pest” or beloved pet can disappear at anytime. No compromise. No Negotiations. No Exceptions,” the organization wrote on its Facebook page.

According to Misseri, regulations prohibit service members from bringing their new-found pets back to the United States themselves.

“So then comes to the point when they have to either give them up…or they have to come back to the states, and that becomes a problem for them,” Misseri said. “So we step in and we now send people to these regions to collect these animals and bring them back to the states where their families live.”

Guardians of Rescue will be transporting five pets  back to the United States in their latest trip — two dogs names Lilly and Rose, two cats named Jack and Tracy, and Majnoon, a kitten.

Lilly and Rose, two dogs rescued from the Middle East by Guardians of Rescue, of Long Island. (Credit: Guardians of Rescue)

Lilly and Rose, two dogs rescued from the Middle East by Guardians of Rescue, of Long Island. (Credit: Guardians of Rescue)

Despite taking tremendous risks, Misseri says it’s all worth it in the end.

“Knowing that that animal’s life will probably be, at the very best, just miserable, if they were killed,” Misseri said. “And knowing how important it is to the service members.”

For more information and to make a donation to Guardians of Rescue, click here.




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