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Airmen save abandoned puppies from dump

June 02, 2009|By STAFF SGT. SHERREE GREBENSTEIN, 167th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

GILBERT, W.Va. -- Hearing the whimpering cries of a handful of puppies just outside the blue Air Force dump truck in which he was riding Wednesday afternoon, Tech. Sgt. Kevin Day couldn't look away.

The cries tugged at his heartstrings.

Day and another engineer with the 167th Airlift Wing's Civil Engineer Squadron spotted the four black and white puppies, as well as a cream-colored one, abandoned at a dump site in Gilbert. The two are among West Virginia National Guard troops involved in cleanup efforts after flash flooding on May 9 in Mingo County, W.Va., wreaked havoc on the area.

"They were trying to find food," said Day, who found the mixed-breed puppies along with Tech. Sgt. Gary Carter at the dump site along W.Va. 52 in Gilbert. Day said it was obvious that someone had abandoned the puppies.

In an effort to feed the hungry little group -- believed to be about 3 months old and having Labrador retriever and coon hound traits -- the two airmen cracked open the sack lunches they picked up earlier that morning and distributed the food inside. The puppies quickly devoured the bologna sandwiches and nacho chips the men handed over to them.

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"They were just trying to find some food," said Day, who noted that he jumped out of the dump truck because he didn't want any of the pups to get run over under the massive wheels of the vehicle.

Day asked the local sheriff's department if it could rescue the abandoned puppies. But when no one showed up to fetch the pups, Day and his partner took matters into their own hands. They lifted them into the cab of the dump truck and brought them back to the Larry Joe Harless Community Center, where the West Virginia National Guard is staging operations in the area.

"I said, 'We just can't leave them out there,'" said Day, of Frederick, Md.

Once at the center, the puppies became a big hit with the soldiers and airmen stationed there. With no dog food on hand, Christin Patrick, a cook at the community center, made a quick trip up the street to the local market, where she grabbed some canine grub.

Within an hour, two of the puppies were adopted.

Day is adopting the cream-colored male puppy, which he has decided to call Gilbert after the town in which he found his new little companion.

Spc. Sarah Kirk, a medic with the West Virginia Army National Guard's Medical Command, has opted to adopt one of the female black-and-white puppies with a unique white spot on its forehead. Kirk, who hopes to begin a horse rescue in Bomont, W.Va., next spring, said she will teach her new puppy how to corral horses.

As for a name, Kirk said she'll have to consult with her fiancé, Spc. Richard Hubbard, a medic with the 2-106th Calvary Regiment in Kewannee, Ill., who is currently serving in Afghanistan. She said the couple names the animals they adopt after their deployments.

Day said all five of the puppies have found new homes.

Staff Sgt. Sherree Grebenstein is covering flood-relief efforts in southern West Virginia.

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