GA combat soldier reunited with military war dog after 4 month s - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

GA combat soldier reunited with military war dog after 4 month separation

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
PINE MOUNTAIN, GA (WTVM) -

Dogs are truly a man's best friend. It was an emotional day for a combat soldier and his military working dog separated for several months.

Combat soldier Staff Sgt. Justin and his 7-year-old Belgium Malinois can now retire and help each other heal from the wounds of war.

The two worked in 50 missions and three deployments to Afghanistan. They were reunited for the first time since December at the Pine Mountain Police Department.

Staff Sgt. Justin and his dog Bond worked more than 50 missions and three deployments to Afghanistan.

Bond started working as a K-9 officer with the Pine Mountain Police Department in December after his retirement from the Army.

After struggling without seeing his dog, the longtime girlfriend of the soldier contacted the American Humane Association for help. The last names of Staff Sgt. Justin and his girlfriend are confidential because of the aspects of his unit and the nature of his job.

The girlfriend spoke with us about seeing Justin and Bond together once again.

"We are pretty much at a loss for words in terms of how excited we are today. Of course it was emotional for Justin today so I am speaking for him. But we are just thrilled to have Bond back and we can give him the relaxing life in the future that he's definitely earned," said Sarah, Justin's girlfriend.

Staff Sgt. Justin was too emotional for an on-camera interview, but says he's extremely thankful to the American Humane Association and Lois Pope a national Philanthropist and the Pine Mountain Police Department.

In front of family and friends, Justin and Bond happily and playfully hugged and showed plenty of affection to one another. 

"The handlers don't always get the happy ending and retire with their dogs. They have forged a huge bond over the years and have worked together in all sorts of circumstances," said Sarah.

His handler, Officer Brad Harrell at the Pine Mountain Police Department brought him out to Justin. In just four months, the department say they've developed a close relationship with the military working dog.

"Being with Bond just the short amount of time he's a very sociable dog and very loving. But I understood his prior handler had a lot more time with him and built relationship with him and I knew it was the right thing to do for him to be reunited with his original handler," said Officer Brad Harrell, assigned to officer Bond.

"This is one of the stories from the military that we want to support our community and our troops and our nation," said Lt. Daniel Ferrone of the Pine Mountain Police Department.

Now that Officer Bond is no longer on the force, the Pine Mountain Police Department was offered $10,000 by the AHA for another K-9.

The National Director of Military Affairs at AHA USMC Capt. Jason Haag (Ret.) presided over the reunification ceremony. He says each military working dog saves about a 150 to 200 men throughout their combat deployment and plays an important part in helping the veteran transition from military to civilian life.

The passing of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act added language stating that military working dogs will be returned to U.S. soil upon retirement where it's possible their former handlers such as Justin can adopt them.

Staff Sgt. Justin will retire from the Army in September. To learn more about the American Humane Association and Lois Pope, click here.

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