Photo: Megan Leavey

After years of attempts to adopt the dog that stood by her side in Iraq, Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey was finally reunited with Sgt. Rex on April 6, thanks to the help of Sen. Charles E. Schumer and the support of more than 20,000 American citizens.

The dog handler and the bomb-sniffing German shepherd served together for more than three years and through two deployments until a 2006 roadside bomb took them out of commission. Leavey, 28, recovered from her injuries. When she completed her Marine Corps service in 2007, she attempted to adopt Rex. But her request was denied because the military determined that Rex was still fit for work.

"Rex is my partner. I love him," Leavey said in an interview. "We have been through so much together. I’ve spent day and night with this dog. It’s a very strong bond."

Over the years, Leavey kept tabs on Rex, receiving regular updates about her canine comrade from workers at the Camp Pendleton kennels. When she learned that 10-year-old Rex was diagnosed with facial palsy this year and removed from service, she submitted another request for adoption. However, she received no response, and she began to worry that Rex would be euthanized since he was no longer able to serve.

Fearing the bureaucratic red tape ahead of her, Leavey reached out to several veterans’ organizations and eventually contacted Schumer. The New York senator launched an online petition, which gained more than 20,000 signatures, and he wrote a letter to Michael B. Donley, secretary of the U.S. Air Force, urging him to allow Leavey and Rex to be reunited.

“The story of Marine Cpl. Leavey and Sgt. Rex is inspiring a nation, and it’s vital that the United States Air Force move as quickly as possible to reunite Sgt. Rex with his former partner,” Schumer said.

On March 19, the Air Force signed off on the adoption, and Leavey and the German shepherd were reunited at a retirement ceremony held in Sgt. Rex's honor on April 6.

“I have a big backyard, plenty of toys. I get to spoil him a little bit," Leavey said after the ceremony.

Check out a video of Leavey and Sgt. Rex's reunion below.

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