MAGNOLIA, Texas (FOX 26) - The big German shepherd wags his tail and rolls over, ready for belly scratches. Meet "Lost". That's his name, but he and the other dogs here are definitely not lost, they are found.
“They deserve this. It's a labor of love," says co-founder Kristen Maurer.
This is the Veteran K9 Rescue Ranch. It sits on four acres along a quiet road outside of Magnolia. It's mission is simple says founder Kristen Maurer -- take retired working dogs that have served as bomb, guard and police dogs, dogs that have known nothing but small cages and work, and turn them into pets.
"When they're overseas, they're with handlers. We call ourselves unhandlers because we're teaching them how to go back and learn how to be a dog. Our whole goal is to get them to the sofa.” she says.
Maurer and her partners, Louisa Kastner and Bob Bryant, started rescuing these dogs in 2009, but recently bought this land for the dogs. The cages are spacious. They get plenty of attention, exercise and toys. They also get expertise. Kastner is a former Army vet tech. A new partner named Tony Villalobos was a dog handler in Afghanistan for four years. Maurer used to be a private detective and had her own drug dog named Roxy.
"I trained with police officers around the country and got her certified and worked her privately. I got sick and she started detecting my seizures and so she became my service dog after that."
All told, they've helped about 200 dogs. Some of the dogs come from contractors working in places like Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Others come from police departments and some from the military. That’s a drastic change of police from the Vietnam Era. Four thousand dogs served in that war. When we withdrew, the government declared them surplus and most were killed. Fewer than 200 made it home. They're credited with saving 10,000 lives. There's no way of telling how many lives these dogs have saved, but now Maurer and her partners are determined to return the favor.
“They were drafted. They didn't choose this life. It is up to us to give back to them. That's what this is about. It's not what these dogs can do for us anymore. It's what we can do for them.”
If you are interested in adopting one visit their website here.