By Steve Guntli
In times of war, a lot of lives are upended, and not just human lives. Now, a Birch Bay Square store owner is holding a fundraiser to ensure that four-legged friends aren’t being left behind.
Puppy Rescue Mission is a program that reunites military personnel with abandoned or orphaned puppies from conflict zones overseas. Anna Cannon, wife of an Afghanistan war veteran founded the Puppy Rescue Mission in 2011. She learned from her husband how soldiers formed a special bond with several of the stray dogs that lived near them, and now works to find the dogs loving homes in the United States, preferably with soldiers. The charity has saved more than 700 animals since they opened.
Bow Wow & Woofs owner Heather Campbell is looking to raise money for the charity by holding a fundraiser in Peace Arch State Park on Saturday, May 14. Campbell first got involved with the charity in March, when a young serviceman named Eric brought his dogs, Kumar and Toast, into her store.
“When Eric was in Afghanistan, Kumar would accompany him on his patrols every single day,” Campbell said. “He wasn’t allowed inside the barracks, but he waited outside every day, without fail.”
When Eric’s deployment was complete, he wanted to take his new friend home with him, so he reached out to Puppy Rescue Mission. When Campbell heard his story, she knew she had to get involved.
“It just took my heart,” she said. “These puppies give those men and women a sense of normalcy. When all hell is breaking loose, at the end of the day they get to hug a puppy, and the thought of leaving that little pup behind is devastating.”
The process for getting a dog back to the U.S. from a conflict zone can be difficult and expensive.
Puppy Rescue Mission has set up shelters in Afghanistan, Jordan and parts of Africa, where dogs can be kept safely until a vet can thoroughly check them for disease or injury. On average, it takes several months and costs between $3,500-4,000 to get a dog back to the U.S., and many of the dogs never make it.
Campbell had planned to hold the fundraiser in July, but was forced to move it up after several of the soldiers involved received redeployment notices. But several dogs that benefited directly from the program will be in attendance. Ammo, a 140-pound Afghan kuchi dog who was born on a U.S. Naval base after his mother was rescued, will be at the event, available for photos.
The fundraiser will feature a live auction, hosted by professional auctioneer and war veteran Joe Attolini, who donated his services for the event. Hilltop Restaurant and Catering is providing an old-fashioned barbeque, and the event will also feature a “Yappy Hour,” with local beer and wine.
The event begins at 5 p.m. in Peace Arch State Park’s American Kitchen building on May 14. Tickets are $12, and can be purchased at Bow Wow & Woofs, 8115 Birch Bay Square Street, Suite 111.
Editors note: An original post neglected to name the date of the event.