The Syrian mountain dog — who was rescued as a starving puppy last winter by a US airman — was released from a month-long federal quarantine at JFK Airport on Thursday, and the two will soon be reunited.
After finally being cleared by customs and the CDC, the pooch can now stay in the country for good thanks to Paws of War, an agency that reunites soldiers with their battlefield rescue dogs.
Decked out in a pink bandana, Harley was so excited to officially become an American that the first thing she did was pee on the lobby floor of the ARK Pet Oasis, which hosted Harley for the last month.
The federal clearance now brings the mutt a few paw-steps closer to being reunited with the vet who saved her life — Amjad Kirrish, a hero now fighting wildfires in California.
She’ll be flown to her forever home with Kirrish and his wife as early as this week.
“I am happy she’s getting out today and moving forward — and will go home to her family,” Paws of War volunteer Derek Cartwright, a dog lover and a veteran of Afghanistan, told The Post.
Harley was initially too out of sorts to take a biscuit from Cartwright upon getting sprung Thursday morning. But after a few minutes, she was giving kisses and rolling over for a belly rub.
“She’s absolutely sweet — very smart,” said Robert Misseri, who heads Paws of War, after meeting Harley hours later. She’s also well trained in heeding commands, Misseri said, noting that, “She got that growing up with all these soldiers for six months in Syria.”
Harley was the only puppy left alive out of her litter when Kirrish’s unit found her and her dying mother in the mountains in January, Misseri said. “Nobody would turn away and let that puppy die,” he said. “They immediately grabbed her and nursed her to health and spent half a year with her.”
But bringing her back to America was a mission in itself. She endured a grueling trip from Syria to Jordan with Kirrish and his unit — much of it in an armored military truck.
Paws of War then assigned her a Jordanian foster family, where she waited out the worst of the coronavirus restrictions until a flight to JFK could be arranged. But once she landed August 24, she wound up in limbo.
“There were some irregularities with the paperwork,” said Elizabeth Schuette, managing director at The Ark, the federally-bonded facility near JFK that hosted Harley’s quarantine.
“The contention was that the vaccinations did not meet the U.S. requirements for entry and that becomes a public health risk.” Harley would have been shipped back to the Middle East immediately.
But thanks to Paws of War, coverage in The Post, along with a bipartisan group of New York congressmembers led by Kathleen Rice and even Lara Trump — President Trump’s daughter in law — intervening on Harley’s behalf, the CDC ultimately agreed to let the dog be re-vaccinated and then released after a 28-day quarantine.
“We just want to get her to California. We have a pilot who has a private plane, a volunteer, who can give her a direct flight,” Misseri said. “We’re working on that today.” Until then, Harley will stay at Paws of War’s Nesconset, New York, facility.
Source: NY Post
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