(129) Reunited and Feeling Good: Veteran Recovers Stolen Service Dog

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

Reunion with her Service Dog

Afghanistan Marine Veteran, Alexandra Melnick, reunited with her service dog, Kai after nine months of separation. Kai, an 18-month old German Shepherd disappeared the day after Thanksgiving last year from his home in Vista, California. Ms. Melnick left her dog with a friend, who reported that the dog vanished after she checked on him earlier that day.

Alexandra and Kai’s Story 

Ms. Melnick trained Kai after her release from the military where she served in Afghanistan in motor transport for the Marine Corps. From an incident while deployed in the Helmand Province, Melnick suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and returned home with PTSD. She bought Kai as a 12-week old puppy, training him to wake her from nightmares and serving as a boundary spanner.

Undertaking a major effort to find Kai, Melnick posted a $5,000 reward and searched neighborhoods on foot. She also posted Kai’s information on the internet. So despondent in not finding Kai, she left her job and fell behind in school.

Eventually, her social media networking connected her with 10,000 dog lovers, including dog sleuth, Andrea Nicol. Finally, a clue over social media led them to a home in Aubrey, Texas, about one hour north of Dallas. Ms. Melnick reported to national news that the family in Texas refused to release Kai to her but called the dog by his name, which suggested they knew he was stolen. In fact, the family registered Kai as an emotional support animal with a website, which Ms. Melnick referred to as “fraudulent.”

After going to local law enforcement in Aubrey, Kai was taken into custody. The microchip Ms. Melnick had imbedded beneath Kai’s skin confirmed Kai belonged to her. The family claiming ownership of Kai failed to show up at the custody hearing so Kai was released back to Ms. Melnick—reunited after nine months. A police investigation into Kai’s theft is ongoing.

The U-Tube video of Kai and Alexandra’s reunion makes it clear that they belong together. Ms. Melnick said Kai suffered from flea infestation and other skin problems while away from her, which she is caring for. While they are rekindling their relationship, Kai requires retraining on various commands—not unexpected after nine months of separation.

Never Give Up—Never Leave a Comrade Behind

Many people told Alexandra Melnick to forget about Kai after he went missing, suggesting that finding him was improbable. She never gave up. Now, Veteran Alexandra Melnick and her service dog, Kai, are reunited and feeling good.

Post your Comments: 

What steps have you taken to protect your service dog or pet from theft or separation from you? Please reply below. 

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About the blogger 

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her granddaughter.