NESCONSET, Long Island (WABC) -- Several dogs that were brought to New York from the Middle East have a bright new outlook on life, thanks to a group called Paws of War.
The dogs were about to be trained for the military when the program they were in was reduced, and they faced being euthanized.
Perhaps it's best that Lucy the lovable German shepherd and her two energetic Belgian Malinois friends Riley and Echo will never know how close they came to a dreadful demise.
The puppies -- the oldest is sixth months -- were saved when a Defense Department official reached out to Paws of War, a Suffolk County organization that rescues dogs and places them with veterans or first responders.
"They know this is what we do, and we jumped into action," co-founder Robert Misseri said. "It took a lot, a lot of resources, a lot of people. It was very expensive to get them out of there."
Lucy, Riley and Echo are domesticated. They underwent some preliminary training overseas, but now that they're stateside in Nesconset, they'll undergo a very different kind of training.
"Here, they are going to go through obedience and task training," Misseri said. "Over there, they were going through detection and different types of training, bomb detection, things like that."
If all goes well, it won't take long to find new homes for the young pups, thanks to people like K-9 handler Timothy Pierce, with the Nassau County Sheriff's Department.
"I can network out and try to reach out to people I know and see if they could reach out to people that they know," he said. "Retired handlers, as well as retired law enforcement, to take these dogs home with them."
Once they're placed, the dogs often provide much more than companionship.
Steve Sassario works as a paramedic in Manhattan. He got COVID and ended up in an ICE, and he said us his beloved Newfoundland named Boomer just about saved his life.
"He helped me recover," he said. "I was able to go outside for long walks, and he would always push me to walk a little further and recover a little bit better, and he kept me mentally safe and sane."
If Lucy, Riley and Echo can do that for another veteran or first responder, well, thank you for your service.
CLICK HERE for more information on Paws of War.
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