Rex the Dog finds new home - by Tech. Sgt. Matt Gilreath 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPN)
A 21st Security Forces Squadron Airman is the first military working dog handler allowed to adopt her K-9 partner from active duty. Technical Sgt. Jamie Dana, a military working dog handler, has been waiting since August for the official word after she requested to adopt her K-9, Rex. The two were injured in an improvised explosive attack on their Humvee June 25 in Iraq.
President George W. Bush signed the Defense Appropriations Bill Dec. 30 allowing military working dogs to retire early and be adopted by their handlers following traumatic events
The sergeant received a certificate signed by Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne approving the adoption from squadron commander Maj. Paul Cairney.
Sgt. Dana is still recouperating from her wounds.
"The past couple weeks have been hard to deal with. So I tried to keep myself as busy as possible so I didn't have to think about it," Sergeant Dana said. "Normally keeping myself busy meant being in a lot of pain in the evenings because I have a habit of pushing myself too hard."
Sergeant Dana said she really didn't know how to feel after she heard the news because of the different opinions people have about her request to adopt Rex.
"I had mixed emotions when I found out the bill had passed. I was so happy -- on one hand -- that Rex and I could stay together. But on the other hand I've heard very hurtful things from several people," she said.
There are several Web sites that have posted both positive and negative feedback concerning her adoption of Rex. But the Air Force has backed her 100 percent.
"They were injured together and they should heal together," said Brig. Gen. Robert Holmes, the Air Force director of Security Forces and Force Protection.
Sergeant Dana had support from Congress and the Senate.
"They told me they wouldn't support my request if they thought letting me adopt Rex would cost one Soldier their life," Sergeant Dana said. "I wouldn't want to put anyone at risk either."
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley, said the adoption was a positive event.
"This has been a team effort between both houses of Congress and I'm just glad to see that there's a happy ending," he said.
The president's signature was one of many needed to complete the retirement and adoption process. Sergeant Dana's signature was one of the last on the document to complete the adoption.
"The certificate arrived today and now that the ceremony is over I feel both extremely happy and very relieved," Sergeant Dana said.
Sergeant Dana plans to separate from the Air Force.
"Rex will accompany me wherever I may end up (in veterinary school somewhere). And hopefully we will be able to do some search and rescue work after I am strong enough to handle it," she said.
Legislative data on the adoption is available on the Library of Congress "Thomas" Web site at thomas.loc.gov.
Information on the military working dog program is available at Military Dogs