(WKBW release) New York Senator Charles E. Schumer launched an online petition Tuesday to urge the United States Air Force to reunite Sergeant Rex, a military working dog, with his former partner, Iraq War veteran Corporal Megan Leavey, with whom he helped identify and disable roadside bombs in Iraq.
According to a news release from Schumer's office:
Megan Leavey, a former marine, worked with Sergeant Rex to hunt down and disarm improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq in order to keep American soldiers safe.
Leavey and Sgt. Rex were severely injured when an IED exploded, abruptly ending their tours in Iraq and forcing them into rehabilitation. Since returning to the United States, Leavey has attempted to adopt Sgt. Rex, but she was initially turned down in 2007 since Rex was still deemed able to work. But once it became known that Sgt. Rex, now 10 years old, was unable to work and would soon be retired from service, Leavey renewed her efforts. Leavey, who currently works as a dog handler in Rockland County, has yet to be approved to adopt Rex and is still working through the military bureaucracy to finalize the adoption.
Last week, in a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley, Schumer urged him to expedite the process to reunite Rex and Leavey as quickly as possible, particularly because the dog is already 10 years old and in declining health. To further the cause of reuniting these two war heroes, Schumer today launched an online petition drive, dubbed ‘Saving Sgt. Rex’ to generate public support for the effort. Schumer urged New Yorkers and Americans across the country to sign the petition, which can be found at his website, www.schumer.senate.gov.
“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.”
During their two deployments to Iraq, Marine Corporal Megan 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. Marine Corporal Leavey was awarded the Purple Heart and a Combat Valor Medal, and the pair spent the next year recovering together from their injuries. She retired from the Marine Corps in 2007, while Rex continued working with other members of the military. Now that Rex has reached 10 years of age, he is unable to work and will soon be classified as “excess”, which is the first step towards eventual adoption into a permanent home, which Marine Corporal Leavey has offered to provide.
The Air Force has requested a completed application from Corporal Leavey before any adoption can be considered. But, while Marine Corporal Leavey has completed what she is able of the application, there are several areas that require action by the Air Force for an application to be considered complete.
Last week, Schumer urged the Air Force to complete the paperwork and approve the adoption as soon as possible so that the two can be reunited. Schumer pointed out that Marine Corporal Leavey is an experienced dog handler and perfectly equipped to adopt Rex, especially since she’s experienced with this dog in particular, and currently works handling dogs for a private security firm. “Sergeant” Rex got this name because it is traditional for a handler to nickname his/her MWD 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 Military Working Dog program is an essential, but unsung, tool in our military, and the dogs save countless lives each year.
The Saving Sgt. Rex petition can be found online at www.schumer.senate.gov