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When troops are deployed overseas, they have to make plans for their children, their spouses, their mortgages, and their pets. A group in Pennsylvania is helping the troops by giving their dogs a place to go. From member station WHYY in Philadelphia, Susan Phillips reports.
SUSAN PHILLIPS: Angel(ph) is just 1 and a half years old, a friendly, tan boxer. But his owner, specialist Jim Butz(ph) of the 56th Stryker Brigade, learned back in October that he's heading to Iraq. Today, he's saying goodbye to Angel.
Mr. JIM BUTZ (56th Stryker Brigade): Angel puppy, come here. Now, you behave. You be good. You be good.
PHILLIPS: Butz has three dogs along with an 8-week-old son. His wife can't take care of all of them while he's overseas, so they're leaving Angel at Canine Corps in Perry County, Pennsylvania, free of charge until Butz returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq.
Mr. BUTZ: One last hug, come on. One last hug.
PHILLIPS: Angel will live with about 16 other dogs in a barn-like building with heated floors, couches, and an outside run. This canine foster home is the brainchild of former Marine Kevin McCartin, who says without Canine Corps, many of these dogs would have had to go to the pound.
Mr. KEVIN MCCARTIN (Co-Director, Paw Prints Dog Sanctuary; Creator, Canine Corps): If you're in the Army and it's going - it's saddle up there when they're going to deploy. People are saying goodbye to their mother, their father, their wives, their children. But there's usually one person in there who said goodbye to their best friend two days ago because they had to turn him in.
PHILLIPS: McCartin volunteers his time, 80 hours a week, to care for these dogs. The bulk of the money to build and operate the new facility came from his wife, Sheila(ph), and his partner's family.
Mr. MCCARTIN: This would have been Sheila's condo at Myrtle Beach, but...
Unidentified Woman: It isn't.
Mr. MCCARTIN: But it isn't. So the money went some place. She enjoys this just as much as she'd enjoy Myrtle Beach, though.
PHILLIPS: And along with the help of 20 other volunteers, the dogs get attention 24 hours a day. A local veterinarian donates free medical care. First lieutenant Robert Crone(ph), also with the 56th Stryker Brigade, has three best friends. One went with his father, but Crone's dad is too sick to take his two Labrador Retrievers, Liken(ph) and Credence(ph).
First Lieutenant ROBERT CRONE (56th Stryker Brigade): A month before we were going to leave, the place I thought was going to take them didn't work out. And I was kind of in panic mode because taking them to a shelter wasn't an option.
PHILLIPS: Crone says without Canine Corps, he would have had to pay $30 a day to board the dogs at a kennel. But now Crone can visit with them online from Iraq. For NPR News, I'm Susan Phillips.
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