NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is a delicate and dangerous operation that happens overseas, where lives are on the line, and precious cargo hangs in the balance.
One man has made it his mission to rescue and bring home war zone pets.
“It’s dangerous enough that if my identity was released, and people knew we were trying to help military members I could very easily be killed,” said the man.
But it’s a mission the special ops veteran voluntarily takes on — the rescue of beloved pets belonging to service men and women stationed overseas.
“I had a gun to my head, and I had a lot of questions to answer while I was trying to get a dog,” he said.
Pets are not welcome with military in war zones and other occupied areas, but over the last 4 years soldiers have been able to enlist the help of Long Island shelter ‘Guardians of Rescue’ to help get them home.
“I’ve been deployed in those areas, and I’ve had that dog. I’ve had that best friend and we’ve had to leave them behind, and I don’t even want to think about what the outcome is,” he said.
Recently, he picked up a puppy on the brink of death in the desert. He also rescued a cat for a soldier, and insured its safe passage home to her family.
“This small little ball of fur can very easily be their Kleenex at night, and it’s the one sanity holder for them in a lot of those areas because they can’t talk about their problems,” he said.
In more than 20 missions he’s brought back dozens of pets — Ghost is one of them.
“Him and my husband just developed a bond,” Sara said, “Still kind of emotional. It’s a piece of him, it’s his buddy, now he’s our buddy.”
“I love Ghost. He’s the best dog in the world,” 5-year-old Lilly added.
Ghost, like the others, would also have been killed if he remained overseas. Now, he’s home, waiting for the safe return of the soldier who adopted him overseas.
“I would have gone to the ends of the earth to find some way to get him home,” Sara said.
They have a piece of their loved one back home, until their loved one can join them.
There’s a hefty price to rescue these war zone pets, between $3,000 and $6,000 to bring home about 4 animals at a time.
All missions are funded by donations through the Guardians of Rescue.