Reunited with the pups they saved from certain death in the Middle East are US Navy sailors

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Two helpless dogs in the Middle East faced terrible abuse and almost-certain death until two U.S. Navy sailors, Chief Petty Officer Matt Johnson and veteran Coreen Johnson, rescued them and found a way to get them out of there and on toward a safer, healthier, and far happier life. The couple first made the decision to take in the two needy pups, Ruby and Sunny, while the couple were deployed to the Middle East. However, the news that they would be transferred to Japan threatened the family of four’s ability to stick together.

With limited resources within the military to transport the two animals to the couple’s next duty stations, the Johnsons reached out to the Long Island, New York-based nonprofit Paws of War for “immediate” help. Paws of War, headed by co-founder Robert Misseri, has brought over 300 dogs and cats rescued by American troops overseas to safety in the U.S. since 2014. The couple was able to locate a flight to Japan for the dogs, and it all happened just this past Sunday.

Chief Johnson agreed that reuniting with the dogs restores a sense of “purpose” in their lives. He said that “the dogs are our family,” and “It brings back purpose to the family.” The Johnsons first connected with each other because of their mutual love of animals. They met for the first time in the barracks when they were stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Navy veteran Coreen, who left the service in 2013, explained that her passion for animals motivated her to help with the animal population in the Middle East. That, in turn, is what led to the couple’s rescue of Ruby and Sunny.

The Johnsons first came across little Ruby, who was being held as bait for a dogfighting ring. The small Jack Russell terrier mix happened to stick her nose through a hole in the metal fence where she was confined — and the Johnsons noticed her. The Johnsons negotiated with the owners to take Ruby out of harm’s way for $10.

Coreen Johnson discovered the couple’s second rescue, Sunny, an injured and severely abused dog lying on the side of the road. Paws of War’s current goal is to provide both Ruby and Sunny with medical insurance for life. A main mission of Paws of War is its “war-torn pups and cats” program, which helps U.S. service members who have saved an animal while serving overseas bring those animals to safety in the U.S.

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