SALEM, Ohio (WYTV) – Many soldiers make close connections with dogs in foreign war zones before having to move back home. One woman in Salem is raising money to help reconnect the dogs with these soldiers.
“This is my motivation, is to help bring these dogs back for the veterans,” said Nicole Ritchie.
Ritchie is a bartender at the VFW Post in Salem. About three years ago, she set up a golf outing to raise money for No Dog Gets Left Behind, which is an organization based out of Philadelphia.
The organization makes it possible for soldiers to reunite with dogs they grew close to while overseas.
Since the organization was founded in 2010, No Dog Gets Left Behind has brought more than 60 dogs home.
“They are the stray dogs that they bond with while they’re over there and that’s the comfort. That’s the little piece of home for them,” Ritchie said.
The VFW Post 892 Golf Outing is held every year at the Salem Hills Golf and County Club.
She said the golf outing keeps getting bigger. They tend to raise about $4,500 to $7,000 for the organization annually.
Douglas Brannon is a retired Army staff sergeant who served in Desert Storm and Afghanistan.
“I couldn’t even imagine the feeling of leaving the military and knowing I may never see that dog again. Then when you come home, you get to see that dog,” Brannon said.
The connection when they return home is like they were never separated, Ritchie said.
“These dogs remember. If it wasn’t for these soldiers over here, these dogs wouldn’t make it,” Ritchie said.
She said it is just as important for the soldiers as it is for the dogs.
“It’s their piece of home that they don’t have when they are over there. They get to play with them, cuddle with them, sleep with them at night, take care of them.”
For more information about the organization and how to donate, visit ndglb.org.