Some American heroes recently saved a mother dog and her pups from a harrowing situation — but that’s not the end of the story.
A group of U.S. Army soldiers deployed to the Middle East befriended a pregnant stray dog named Meatball, as the New York-based nonprofit Paws of War told Fox News Digital in an email.
The soon-to-be mama dog had dug beneath a shipping container on the soldiers’ military base in search of a place to give birth to her puppies.
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The soldiers found her there — and nurtured her with food and water as she delivered eight puppies.
Shortly after Meatball gave birth, a rare ice storm hit, filling the dogs’ den with hail and sludge.
The soldiers intervened.
They saved Meatball and her pups from the elements, scooping up the animals and taking them to a warm, safe space to recover.
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Caring for Meatball and her young pups gave the soldiers “something positive to focus on” while they were far away from home, said Paws of War — and the soldiers formed bonds with each of the puppies in the process.
Now, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rickly and fellow soldiers who watched over the dogs in a precarious situation are hoping to ship them out of harm’s way — and get them to safety in America.
From “the outside looking in, you might think I saved these puppies, but in so many ways, the pups and Meatball saved me, too,” Rickly wrote in a statement provided to Fox News Digital by Paws of War.
“When things back home took a turn for the worse, I became sad being so far away and it was hard to stay focused,” the soldier continued.
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“Making it my mission to ensure … that each of the pups has a loving forever home, and taking care of them, has given me great comfort during difficult times,” the soldier also said.
“I believe they were born under my watch for a reason.”
“You might think I saved these puppies, but … the pups and Meatball saved me, too.”
The team reached out to Paws of War through the War-Torn Pups and Cats program to ensure the protection of the pups before their deployment ends.
“Without the soldiers, Meatball’s babies would have died,” the organization wrote.
“And the heart-wrenching reality is that when their heroes are gone, they won’t make it long alone.”
Rickly added, “What will happen to them next scares me if they are not able to make it to safety.”
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“Since the day they were born, they have been taken care of, and they don’t know what suffering awaits them if they have to fend for themselves,” the soldier also said.
In the Middle East, dogs are viewed as “vermin” and are routinely abused, Paws of War reported.
“We made a commitment to help every hero we can to save the life of an animal they love,” said Robert Misseri, co-founder and president of Paws of War, in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.
“The story of Meatball and her pups is an example of how much these animals matter to our active military and the life-saving difference we can make for those animals who become family to them,” he also said.
He added, “We are doing everything we can to ensure this mission to bring them to America and back to their soldiers’ sides has a happy ending.”
“The overseas horrors bestowed upon animals is atrocious.”
The organization notes on its website, “We love getting these precious dogs and cats safely to the United States. The overseas horrors bestowed upon animals is atrocious. Leaving them behind is heartbreaking and devastating for our military members.”
Paws of War accepts donations to rescue animals from areas where they’re in danger.
For more information, anyone can visit pawsofwar.org.
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