Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the United States Air Force has cleared Sgt. Rex, the military working dog that hunted down and disarmed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with retired Marine Corps veteran Corporal Megan Leavey in Iraq, for adoption and reunification with Leavey. Schumer had interceded on behalf of Leavey to secure an agreement from the Air Force and Marines to adopt Sgt. Rex. The Air Force has signed off on the adoption and the Marine Corps are now concluding the necessary paperwork. The decision to reunite the two came after Schumer pressured both branches of the service to quickly approve the application and after overwhelming national support for the cause emerged, culminating with an online petition that secured over 20,000 signatures. Schumer and Leavey discussed the effort, its conclusion, and next steps to bring Sgt. Rex home to Corporal Leavey.
"We salute the Air Force and the Marines for doing the right thing and allowing Rex to be with Corporal Leavey. One canine, one human, both heroes. They should be united shortly and we're glad it's happening," said Schumer. "I can think of no better ending to a story that inspired a nation than to see Sgt. Rex come home to his best friend. While millions of dog lovers across the country have a deep bond with their "best friend', the bond forged between Corporal Leavey and Sgt. Rex is one that few of us will ever know. It's only appropriate and right that the two of them enjoy their retirement from the service together. I again want to thank the Air Force and Marines for moving so quickly and I want to thank the thousands of New Yorkers and Americans who showed their support online."
"Rex and I went through a great deal together and I am just so grateful that we will be reunited again," said Corporal Leavey. "I want to thank Senator Schumer for all of his help getting this done and made public to help me adopt Rex. I also want to thank Randy and Mindy Levine of the NY Yankees for their generosity in providing transportation and medical coverage for Rex for the remainder of his life. And last, but definitely not least, I want to thank the Marine Corps and the Air Force for bringing the two of us together again and trusting that I will make sure Rex has the best home he could possibly have."
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. Leavey had attempted to adopt Sgt. Rex in 2007, but she was turned down since he was still deemed able to work. But once Sgt. Rex turned 10 years old, he was determined unable to work further and was retired from service. At that point Leavey renewed her efforts to adopt Rex.
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 launched an online petition drive this week, 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 now has over 20,000 signatures and can be found at his website, www.schumer.senate.gov. The Air Force signed off on its recommendation for the adoption and Rex will be reunited with Corporal Leavey, once the dog recovers from his final physical, Corporal Leavey signs her release, and the Marine Corps removes Rex from its property records.
Today, Schumer announced that the Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps have agreed to reunite Leavey with Sgt. Rex, and the decision will be finalized any day now. Schumer said that today was a great day for these two heroes who can now finally be reunited.