SELINSGROVE — Robert William “Bill” Nacy traveled more than 2,200 miles by airplane to reunite with retired service dog Kelly, but the miles didn’t matter.
“I would have flown anywhere in the world for her,” Nacy, 49, of Tuscon, Ariz., said on Wednesday in Selinsgrove upon being reunited with the 9-year-old Belgian Maliois. “As soon as I heard she was retired, I put in the request to get her. I knew she was back in the states, but I would have went back to Afghanistan to get her.”
Nacy, who has been working in security since 2011, worked as Kelly’s first handler with the U.S. Army in 2010 and 2011 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Kelly, an explosive detection and patrol protection dog, retired this year and was picked up by K9 Hero Haven, a nonprofit organization in Herndon that rescues retired military and service dogs, rehabilitates them and places them with combat veterans or retired police officers.
“She saved my life, she saved a lot of lives,” Nacy said. “She deserves the best retirement a dog can get, and I’m going to give it to her.”
There are approximately 3,200 active-duty service dogs in all branches of the U.S. military, police and border control, and approximately 300 of those canines retire each year to be adopted by their handlers or the public. An estimated 60 dogs have been killed in action in the past decade compared to the 300 killed in the Vietnam War era.
Kelly is a playful animal who loves toys, and chews on everything. Nacy said she “couldn’t wait to work with dad,” referring to himself, on 12-hour shifts searching every vehicle that entered the base.
K9 Hero Haven is operated by Anne and Mike Gibbs.
“It’s such a beautiful feeling to see these dogs go back with their handlers,” Gibbs said.
The animal and handlers work together closely and understand each other because they went through the same harsh conditions, Gibbs said.
Nacy plans to return to Arizona today with his wife, Susan, where Kelly can enjoy retirement.
“I’m going to let her do whatever she wants,” Nacy said. “She’s retired. She no longer has to do anything, she no longer has to save anyone. She just has to be a house dog. I’m going to give her a fat t-bone steak for it.”
The Gibbs have 38 dogs, with 10 ready to be adopted. To inquire about adoption, visit http://www.k9herohaven.org.
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