After nine months of searching, marine veteran Alexandra Melnick has been reunited with her best friend – her service dog, Kai
After nine months of frantic searching, Marine veteran Alexandra Melnick has been reunited with her best friend – her service dog, Kai.
In late August, a tip on social media led Melnick to Texas, where she found Kai at a private home, she explained in a post to the Facebook page she created to help with the search of her beloved pet.
“The people who had him didn’t initially know he was missing, stolen or that I was looking,” she wrote. “When they found out, they didn’t want to give him up.”
The young woman reached out to Texas law enforcement officials, who confirmed that she had reported the dog missing in December. Kai was seized from the home days later on Sept. 2, and a scan of his microchip confirmed his identity, The San Diego Tribune reports.
On Wednesday morning, a judge ruled that Melnick had the right to bring Kai back to her home in California. Newly reunited, the veteran and her best friend boarded a flight back to San Diego that afternoon.
“I feel beyond blessed to have my baby boy home,” Melnick wrote Wednesday, adding that there is an ongoing investigation into how the dog ended up in Texas.
Kai went missing from Melnick’s backyard in Vista, California, the day after Thanksgiving. She began searching immediately, setting up Facebook and GoFundMe pages, printing and distributing flyers and talking to local media.
Melnick’s story captured the hearts of thousands on social media who helped her raise over $6,000 to offer as a reward and submitted leads of possible Kai sightings.
After a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan left Melnick with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, she bought the 12-week-old puppy in 2013 and trained him as a service dog.
“He helps me with things like PTSD and insomnia,” Melnick told ABC 10News in December. “He puts me to sleep. He wakes me up for nightmares.”
After his disappearance, Melnick spent every day looking for her beloved pet.
“I spend my days searching for him, I spend my nights dreaming about him and having nightmares still and I really hope that we get him home,” she told San Diego 6 in April. “He saved my life, I owe this to him. I want to do anything in my power to get him home.”
Kai was found in poor health with fleas, open sores, and scars across his body, Melnick wrote. For now, she’s focused on getting her best friend back in good health, and, as she explained, “taking some time to be with someone who I’ve missed very much.”