Combat veteran to reunite with beloved Syrian rescue dog

Combat veteran to reunite with beloved Syrian rescue dog
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Welcome to America, Harley!

The Syrian mountain dog – who was rescued as a starving puppy last winter by an American aviator – was released Thursday from a month-long federal quarantine at JFK Airport, and the two will be reunited soon.

After finally being cleared by Customs and the CDC, the dog can now stay in the country for good thanks to Paws of War, an agency that reunites soldiers with their rescue dogs on the battlefield.

Dressed in a pink bandana, Harley was so excited to officially become American that the first thing she did was pee in the lobby of the ARK Pet Oasis, which hosted Harley last month.

Federal clearance now brings the mutt one step closer to finding the vet who saved his life – Amjad Kirrish, a hero now battling California wildfires.

She will be transported home forever with Kirrish and his wife starting this week.

“I’m happy that she’s going out today and keeping moving – and going home to her family,” Paws of War volunteer dog lover Derek Cartwright told The Post. and an Afghanistan veteran.

Harley was initially too badly to take a Cartwright cookie after being thrown out Thursday morning. But after a few minutes, she was giving kisses and turning around to rub her stomach.

“She’s absolutely adorable – very smart,” said Robert Misseri, who runs Paws of War, after meeting Harley a few hours later.

She is also well trained in listening to commands, Misseri said, noting that “she grew up with all these soldiers for six months in Syria.

Harley was the only puppy living from her litter box when Kirrish’s unit found her with her dying mother in the mountains in January, Misseri said.

“No one would turn away and let this puppy die,” he said. “They immediately grabbed her, treated her and spent six months with her.

But bringing her back to America was a mission in itself.

She endured a grueling journey from Syria to Jordan with Kirrish and her unit – much of it in an armored military truck.

Paws of War then assigned her to a Jordanian host family, where she waited for the worst of coronavirus restrictions until a flight to JFK could be arranged.

But once she landed on August 24, she found herself in limbo.

“There were irregularities in the paperwork,” said Elizabeth Schuette, executive director of The Ark, the federal bail facility near JFK that housed Harley’s quarantine.

Harley the syrian dog
Harley the syrian dogPaul Martinka

“The claim was that the vaccinations did not meet US requirements for entry and it becomes a public health risk.”

Harley was reportedly returned to the Middle East immediately.

But thanks to Paws of War, coverage in The Post, as well as a bipartisan group of members of Congress from New York led by Kathleen Rice and even Lara Trump – President Trump’s daughter-in-law – speaking on Harley’s behalf. , the CDC eventually agreed to let the dog be re-vaccinated and then released after a 28-day quarantine.

“We just want to take him to California. We have a pilot who has a private plane, a volunteer, who can give it a direct flight, ”Misseri said. “We are working on it today.”

Until then, Harley will remain at the facility at Paws of War’s Nesconset in New York.

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