Thanks to an international rescue effort involving the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International (SPCAI), the Afghan Stray Animal League, Air Force, Navy and National Guard personnel, and caring civilians, a dog once destined for a life on the streets of Afghanistan is coming to America to live with his rescuer.
Lee Chandler first met and befriended Blanco after the dog wandered away from Afghan guards near the military base where Chandler is stationed. The 28-year-old sergeant noticed that Blanco’s ears had been cut off and was concerned that the dog was being prepped for dog fighting, a popular pastime in Afghanistan. The two became fast friends, and Chandler quickly grew committed to getting the stray a one way ticket to the US.
“Myself, I felt indebted to him because we treated him too much like an American dog,” Chandler wrote. “For him to ever go back to the streets of Afghanistan, he simply would not have made it.
Chandler raised the funds needed to fly Blanco home through a Facebook campaign. Chandler’s sisters are now taking over and are holding a bake at Hastings Tractor Supply on Saturday in order to cover the costs of Blanco’s arrival inspection and transfer from New York to Michigan.
“We’re asking anyone in the area who wants to bake for it to donate and anyone can come and purchase baked goods,” said Chandler’s sister, Rebecca Bilot. “My brother is huge animal lover.This dog touched him. He wanted to feel like he was doing something worth it.”
ASAL, a US non-profit that operates a shelter and low cost vet clinic in Kabul is caring for Blanco until he’s ready to board a plane to the US. When he arrives, he’ll be sent to Chandler’s mother’s home in northern Michigan. When Chandler returns from duty in July, Blanco will make the last leg of his journey to begin a new life with the man who saved him.
Chandler acknowledges that many strays in America are in need of homes, but says that the extra effort needed to save a dog in a faraway land was well worth it.
“We know there are thousands of dogs in America that need good homes, but Blanco kind of became our personal mission to make up for all the dogs we saw daily in sector, that lived such tough lives over here, with absolutely no support networks or laws to protect them,” Chandler said, “and we could not allow him to meet that fate.”