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Effort to Reunite New York Vet with Canine Partner is "Overwhelming"

Online petition to reunite Corporal Megan Leavey with Sgt. Rex nearing 14,000 signatures.

The online petition launched by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to reunite military partners, Corporal Megan Leavey and Sergeant Rex exceeded 13,800 signatures by midday Thursday. Schumer began the “Saving Sgt. Rex” petition drive after Leavey of Valley Cottage contacted him about her efforts to adopt Sgt. Rex, the German Shepherd, who served with her in Iraq.

“I’m so thankful and happy he really brought a ton of attention,” said Leavey. “It’s almost overwhelming. I can’t believe how many people signed the petition.”

During two deployments, Leavey and Sgt. Rex worked together to identify and disarm improved explosive devices (IED) before a roadside bomb severely injured them.  Leavey, a former Marine, has applied to the Air Force to adopt Sgt. Rex but the application is still moving through military channels.  After the explosion Sgt. Rex, a military working dog, and Leavey had to end their tours in Iraq and enter rehabilitation.

Since returning to the United States, Leavey has attempted to adopt Sgt. Rex. Her request was initially turned down in 2007 when Rex was still deemed able to work. With Sgt. Rex turning 10 years old and being unable to work and soon to be retired from service, Leavey renewed her efforts.  She is optimistic her application to adopt Sgt. Rex will be approved but it is still working its way through military channels.

 “I’ve been waiting for this for four years now,” said Leavey who works as a dog handler for a private security firm. “It’s something that I would be thinking about every day.”

Last week Schumer sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley asking him to expedite the process to reunite Rex and Leavey as quickly as possible because of the dog’s age and declining health. To further the cause of reuniting the two war heroes, Schumer launched the online petition “Saving Sgt. Rex” to generate public support from across the country for the effort. 

“The story of Marine Corporal Leavey and Sergeant Rex is inspiring a nation, and it’s vital that the United States Air Force move as quickly as possible to reunite Sgt. Rex with his former partner,” said Schumer. “The ‘Saving Sgt. Rex’ petition will bolster the effort to bring attention to this worthwhile cause, and I am urging all Americans to sign-up and show their support; we asked a lot more of Corporal Leavey and Sgt. Rex, who put their lives on the line for us time-and-again – reuniting them now is the least we can do.”

Leavey and Sgt. Rex worked together during two deployments in some of Iraq’s most dangerous regions.  The partners saved countless lives as they uncovered deadly explosives, IEDs, weapons caches and suicide bombers.  Both were severely injured in 2006 when insurgents detonated an IED at the side of the road they were patrolling.  Leavey was awarded the Purple Heart and a Combat Valor Medal, and the pair spent the next year recovering together from their injuries.

Leavey retired from the Marine Corps in 2007 and returned to Rockland County while Rex continued working with other members of the military. At 10 years old, Rex will soon be classified as “excess”, the first step towards eventual adoption into a permanent home.  Schumer urged the Air Force to complete the application paperwork and approve the adoption as soon as possible.

“Sergeant” Rex got his name because it is traditional for a handler to nickname his/her Military Working Dog using a rank one level above his/her own.  Rex is a “Sergeant” (E-5) because this is one rank above his handlers, who were Marine Corporals (E-4).

The Saving Sgt. Rex petition reads:

Marine Corporal Megan Leavey, a decorated Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veteran, served as a handler for Military Working Dog ‘Sgt. Rex’ during her two deployments in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. During their two deployments to Iraq, Corporal Leavey and Sgt. Rex worked together to save countless lives as they scoured the war’s most dangerous regions, uncovering deadly explosives, IEDs, weapons caches and suicide bombers.  Both were severely injured in 2006 when insurgents detonated an IED at the side of the road they were patrolling. Corporal Leavey was awarded the Purple Heart and a Combat Valor Medal, and the pair spent the next year recovering together from their injuries.

While Corporal Leavey retired from the Marine Corps in 2007, Rex continued working with other members of the military, making the Iraq landscape safer for our soldiers. Now that Sgt. Rex has reached 10-years of age, he no longer is able to work in active duty and is being classified as “excess”, which would allow him to be adopted and reunited into a permanent home – ideally with his former partner, Marine Corporal Leavey. While Corporal Leavey has completed the application for adoption, the application still requires additional information from the United States Airforce and has not yet been approved.

We, the undersigned Americans, urge the Department of the Air Force to immediately approve Corporal Leavey’s application for adoption of her former brother-in-arms, Sgt. Rex. At ten years old, and after multiple tours of duty, time is of the essence. We implore the U.S. Air Force to expedite Corporal Leavey’s application and ensure that these two war heroes are reunited so that Sgt. Rex can share the rest of his days with the one person who knows him best and is deeply bonded with him.

 

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