Lt. Shelby Koontz had no idea that her deployment in Syria would result in her changing the life of a furry friend. After meeting a stray dog that had so much of an impact on her and her fellow soldiers, she knew she had to find a forever home for this special pup.
Shelby first met this “raccoon dog” when the nervous pup made her way onto their military base earlier this year. She was emaciated, covered in mud, and a bit skittish, but quickly warmed up to Shelby once she realized she was among friends.
The striking black markings around her eyes led to her being nicknamed the raccoon dog, but she was lovingly named Rumi once she began to win everyone’s heart. Though military bases are not often fond of having dogs on base due to potential security risks, her sweet nature quickly earned her a spot in their family.
“You could tell she wanted to be around people. She’s very playful. Rumi would see a group of soldiers going for a run, and she’d think, “Oh, I want to come too.” She would also follow the soldiers when they were getting ready to go on patrol.” Lt. Shelby Koontz
While Shelby got permission to have Rumi with her on base, her time in Syria was coming to an end. She would soon be sent to Alaska on her next assignment, meaning Rumi would be left behind.
Shelby couldn’t stand the thought of Rumi feeling abandoned once she left and knew she’d run the risk of being sent off base once new soldiers arrived in her place. With her fellow soldiers on her side, she set off to find Rumi the forever home she deserved!
“Initially I posted a picture on Facebook just asking if anybody would be interested in adopting a dog from a war zone.” – Lt. Shelby Koontz
Shelby had no idea if anyone would be interested in adopting her new Syrian friend, but to her surprise, the potential adopters came rolling in. After some thorough research into Rumi’s potential family, it was clear that they were a perfect fit.
Rumi’s adopters are a family living at Fort Bliss, Texas, that understands just how important of a role a canine can play in a soldier’s happiness! Shelby was able to create a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for Rumi’s upcoming journey. Due to overwhelming support from the public and a donation from Puppy Rescue Mission, they were able to raise $3,500 to cover Rumi’s veterinary fees and travel fees to get her to her new family in the U.S.
“The day she makes it to the States, it’s going to be the proudest day of my deployment.”- Lt. Shelby Koontz
When people ask Shelby about her time in the military, she says her deployments or patrols won’t be the main topic of the conversation. She says it will always be, “I saved a dog.”
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