Service Dog Reunites With His Pet Parent
A Texas judge ruled in favor of reuniting a service dog with his beloved pet parent on Sept. 8, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Nine months ago, military veteran Alexandra Melnick's dog went missing. Though Melnick was unsure whether her beloved German Shepherd Dog, Kai, ran away or was kidnapped, she was certain that she wanted to find him as soon as she could. After several months of agony, on Aug. 31, Melnick was finally tipped off that her dog was in a town an hour north of Dallas, Texas. Melnick, a resident of Vista, California, immediately flew to the home to determine whether the tip was correct.
Sure enough, it was. However, Melnick could not simply take her dog and go home, so she decided to reach out to local law enforcement in Texas to bring her dog back to her. But they needed to prove that Melnick was actually Kai's owner. Police officers determined that Melnick had reported that Kai went missing, so animal control officers retrieved the dog from the house a few days later and scanned his microchip to figure out if the dog in question was actually Kai. Despite the clear evidence, the pair could still not be reunited.
A hearing was held to determine the dog's true ownership and the judge saw the clear truth. Kai was returned to Melnick within an hour of the hearing.
Prior to the trial, Melnick was very concerned about Kai's condition, noting to the San Diego Union-Tribune that he was in "poor health." When Melnick retrieved Kai, he was infested with fleas and had bald spots with open sores, according to her Facebook page for him.
A determined search
After the dog initially went missing in November, Melnick set up a Facebook page and reached out to local media sources to spread the word. The page got more than 10,000 followers, and finally led to a person who had spotted the dog's familiar face. However, her search team did not end there. Several volunteers searched on foot for the dog and submitted possible sightings, and two pet detectives joined the fight as well.
Melnick worked as a motor transport for the Marine Corps and served time in Afghanistan. However, a significant accident caused her to come back home with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, Melnick decided to buy Kai, a 12-week-old puppy, in 2013. Melnick raised the dog on her own and taught him how to wake her from terrible nightmares, aid her anxiety and insomnia, and how to defend her. Naturally, when the dog disappeared, Melnick was beside herself.
There is a suspect in question for Kai's disappearance. Detectives on the case believe this person knew that Kai went missing and may have even kidnapped him from Melnick's yard based on substantial evidence. The investigation is still pending and justice may be served. But at least for now, the pair has been happily reunited.
It is not uncommon for military veterans find comfort in a canine companion after returning from serving overseas. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notes that dogs are often relied on as stress relievers and can help people experiencing PTSD feel calmer, sleep better and act more loving toward others.