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A U.S. soldier is asking for help in safely getting his tiny rescue puppy out of the Middle East and into America — so that this beautiful animal can finally live a happy life.
U.S. Army Sgt. Macintire, who is on his 15th deployment overseas, is recruiting help from the public as well as support from the nonprofit Paws of War to transport his adorable puppy, CJ, back home to his family in Utah.
Robert Misseri, co-founder of the Long Island, N.Y.-based Paws of War, told Fox News Digital that the pup’s rescue mission needs more funding before all steps can be completed. The group also divulged just how close to death this puppy had been.
“We have assured [Sgt.] Macintire that we would do everything we can not to let him down or his family down,” said Misseri about the pup.
He added about the rescue mission and the animal’s transport, “It’s very expensive.”
Paws of War staff revealed to Fox News Digital that “things were touch and go” for little CJ at the start of the mission.
First off, the pup was “facing several health issues, including dehydration, and possibly poison[ing],” a staff member shared with Fox News Digital.
The pup’s “chances of survival were not good. She received several types of IV medications and treatments over the course of a week. Initially, she did not respond well — but after five days, when we thought it was going to be her last day, she turned the corner.”
“They all knew how much the dog meant to Sgt. Macintire.”
“It was hard for everyone just seeing her lay lifelessly in the cage, not being able to help or comfort her,” said Paws of War staff.
The organization remained in contact with Macintire and his family throughout the process of rescue and rehabilitation.
“So many of the soldiers on the base were also waiting each day for the updates,” donor relations specialist Gary Baumann of Paws of War told Fox News Digital via email. “They had loved this little pup, and they all knew how much the dog meant to Sgt. Macintire.”
Macintire, who can’t disclose his first name or specific location, first came across CJ while on patrol with other soldiers. The puppy was with its mother, who was nursing her brood on the side of the road, while a protective adult male dog lingered nearby.
Amid grieving the loss of his own family’s Great Dane back home, the sergeant continued to visit the family of dogs, hoping to win over the father pup, whom he named Cooper.
Eventually, Cooper took Macintire’s offerings of food and water — and allowed the soldiers to play with his puppies.
One day, however, the family of dogs went missing. After searching for the animals, soldiers finally found Cooper’s body — as well as the sick, scared and now-orphaned puppy they named CJ, short for Cooper Jr.
The Army sergeant made it his duty to care for and adopt the puppy, leaning on Paws of War to help provide her with medical attention and a one-way ticket out of harm’s way.
“I wanted to show CJ a life different from the one her father suffered in,” the sergeant told Paws of War. The dogs, he said, had been “fighting to survive in the open desert, scrounging for food and being mistreated by some humans.”
Robert Misseri of Paws of War explained that there are a “multitude” of obstacles involved in getting a dog out of the Middle East and into the U.S., including a hefty price tag.
“Our goal right now is to raise all the funds that are needed,” he said. “We feel confident that we can.”
The Paws of War co-founder detailed that the end goal is to have CJ in Utah — greeting the sergeant once he returns home from deployment. Step one is to get the puppy to Macintire’s wife, six kids and granddaughter.
“I hike daily on the trails throughout Utah and can’t wait to have CJ by my side,” Macintire said. “That will give me so much joy knowing she is safe and happy.”
CJ has full clearance to fly to the U.S. once full funding is collected for her trip.
“My family is so excited,” he added. “My kids have even cleaned up our yard and made sure there were no holes in the fence.”
A rescue mission such as this one from the Middle East involves a variety of other challenges, such as nailing down flight clearance and sending Paws of War personnel to remote locations for pickups.
Misseri said once a puppy is picked up, the first order of business is to get the animal to a veterinarian, even though the nearest vet could be up to 500 miles away.
“They [veterinarians] are not as common as they are here in America,” he said.
“In many of these places, dogs are not common pets, so there are not a lot of veterinarians or a lot of supplies.”
Despite these challenges, Misseri revealed that what keeps Paws of War going is the goal of preventing additional U.S. soldiers from having to leave pets behind against their will.
“We’ve heard from so many soldiers that served prior to knowing we existed and had to leave an animal behind — and it weighs very, very heavily on them,” he said.
“And now, when someone does reach out to us, we do everything we can to never let that soldier down or let that dog down.”
The survival rate for puppies in the Middle East is “very low,” Misseri also said — so leaving them behind can be “brutal” for soldiers.
“We do everything we can to never let that soldier down or let that dog down.”
“It’s a cruel existence for them,” he said. “You have dogs that have to fight for food. You have people who try to hurt them. The temperatures are brutal. It’s very different, so the survival rate is very low in general.”
Misseri said CJ is “doing great” right now and that she has full clearance to fly once enough funds have been collected on her behalf.
Any donations are gratefully accepted at pawsofwar.networkforgood.com.