Imagine leaving for a tour of duty unsure of who will be taking care of your beloved pet — it’s a heartbreaking situation that no one who serves our country should have to face.
Thanks to Project Active Duty, the Locke family didn’t have to.
With the help of a $50,000 donation from PetSmart Charities, the program, launched by the Arizona Humane Society in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks, allows loving pet owners leaving for a tour of duty to entrust their pets with the AHS, who provide peace of mind during their deployment.
Layla, the Locke family’s 4-year-old pit bull mix, was taken in by hero foster parents Larry and Janet LeBlanc, from Surprise, Arizona, who cared for the dog for 15 months while Master Sergeant Doug Locke — who they’d never even met — was deployed to South Korea.
The family was reunited with the dog over the weekend, and the emotional experience was captured on the video above.
There are happy tears now but there were a few sad ones back then: The Lockes were scared in August of 2015 when Doug was heading for deployment and Layla had nowhere to go. They turned to Project Active Duty for help.
The program, which is free of charge to members of the military, places pets into AHS foster homes for the length of the deployment, regardless of the duration. To date, nearly 100 pets, including cats, dogs and rabbits, have benefited from the program.
Larry and Janet LeBlanc took Layla in and cared for her as if she was their own, and, as you can imagine, as happy as they were for Layla to return to her loved ones, they were sad to say goodbye, too.
“I think our faces tell [the story],” says a crying Janet in the video. “But we’re not sorry that we did it. Not at all. It’s just a different bond. And you know, we’ll have a bond with them for the rest of our lives now.”
To learn more about Project Active Duty, visit the Arizona Humane Society’s website.