NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Two helpless dogs in the Middle East faced terrible abuse and almost-certain death until two U.S. Navy sailors not only rescued them — but found a way to get them out of there and on toward a safer, healthier and far happier life.
Married U.S. Navy duo Chief Petty Officer Matt Johnson and veteran Coreen Johnson first made the decision to take in the two needy pups, Ruby and Sunny, while the couple were deployed to the Middle East.
But the news that they’d be re-stationed to Japan threatened the family of four’s ability to stick together — and Coreen Johnson expressed her intense worry about it in an interview with Fox News Digital.
US SOLDIER IS TRYING TO RESCUE THIS SWEET, HELPLESS PUPPY FROM THE MIDDLE EAST
“We were just kind of left not knowing what to do,” she said.
With limited resources within the military to transport the two animals to the couple’s next duty stations, the Johnsons reached out to the Long Island, N.Y.-based nonprofit Paws of War for “immediate” help.
“I didn’t know what to do because we had to leave, and I could not live without them,” she said.
“We don’t have children of our own,” she added. “These dogs are our family — and Paws of War totally understood that.”
VETERANS STRUGGLING WITH PTSD FIND HOPE AND HEALING BY WORKING WITH HORSES
The New York-based Paws of War, headed by co-founder Robert Misseri, has brought over 300 dogs and cats — all rescued by American troops overseas — to safety in the U.S. since 2014, according to its website.
Familiar with the immense challenges of getting rescue animals out of the Middle East, Paws of War was able to locate a flight to Japan for the dogs — and it all happened just this past Sunday.
Now that the sailors and dogs are officially reunited, Coreen Johnson shared her bliss at having the family of four back together.
“We didn’t know what to do with ourselves without them,” she said. “We’ve been kind of wandering around just missing them,” she said.
“Now we’re so happy.”
“We don’t need our stuff. We’re just happy to have [the dogs] with us.”
Coreen Johnson added with a laugh that even though their new home isn’t furnished yet, Ruby and Sunny are all they need.
“We don’t need our stuff,” she said. “We’re just happy to have them with us.”
CPO Johnson agreed that reuniting with the dogs restores a sense of “purpose” in their lives.
“The dogs are our family,” he said. “It brings back purpose to the family.”
Mutual love of animals
The Johnsons first connected with each other because of their mutual love of animals.
They met for the first time in the barracks when they were stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Matt was on a walk with his dog at the time — and Coreen stopped to pet the animal.
US NAVY DISPLAYS TIMES SQUARE DIVE TANK DURING FLEET WEEK
“I was really homesick,” she said. “All I wanted to do was pet his dog.”
(That dog of Matt’s has since passed away.)
Meanwhile, Navy veteran Coreen, who exited the military in 2013, explained that her passion for animals motivated her to help with the animal population in the Middle East. And that, in turn, is what led to the couple’s rescue of Ruby and Sunny.
“I fell in love with these two dogs,” said Coreen Johnson, “and we absolutely had to take them with us.”
“We couldn’t leave them there in the current situation of the Middle East. We just couldn’t leave them behind.”
Bait for a dogfighting ring
The Johnsons first came across little Ruby, who was being held as bait for a dogfighting ring.
The small Jack Russell Terrier mix happened to stick her nose through a hole in the metal fence where she was confined — and the Johnsons noticed her.
The Johnsons negotiated with the owners to take Ruby out of harm’s way for $10.
Coreen Johnson discovered the couple’s second rescue, Sunny.
She found the injured and severely abused dog lying on the side of the road.
Misseri of Paws of War revealed to Fox News Digital that a group of kids attempted to light Sunny on fire.
“He had burns on his body. He was hit by a car. His skull was fractured,” Coreen Johnson said.
“We had to save him.”
TWO PUPPIES RESCUED IN CALIFORNIA AFTER BEING TRAPPED BY A 100-POUND TORTOISE
Coreen shared that Sunny — whom she considers a “horse dog” based on his large stature — got his name because of his positive disposition, despite the rough times he clearly endured.
“He’s just so friendly and kind,” she said.
Misseri said that Paws of War’s current goal is to provide both Ruby and Sunny with medical insurance for life.
A main mission of Paws of War is its “war-torn pups and cats” program. It helps U.S. service members who have saved an animal while serving overseas bring those animals to safety in the U.S.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
In addition, says Paws of War, it works to “rescue, train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our veterans and first responders [who] suffer from traumatic effects sustained while serving their country and community. We provide essential and supportive services to our heroes in need.”
Any donations are gratefully accepted at pawsofwar.networkforgood.com.