Andy Wolf and his K-9, Iras, served in the military together for five of Wolf's 12 years and counting in the service. But after some health issues, the dog was retired.
Wolf wanted to bring the German shepherd under his care permanently, but it was costly. That's when the community stepped in to bring Iras home from Germany and reunite him with his handler in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
"Iras has served his country well and he has protected countless military soldiers. He made sure my brother came home. Now we need to get him home," Wolf's brother, Joe Wolf, wrote on a Go Fund Me fundraising site. "Iras has been retired from active duty so he now will reside with Andy and his family. We need to help raise funds to fly him stateside from Germany and to build a kennel."
"I don't think I can ever explain the bond Andy has with that dog," Joe Wolf told the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Yet for the last year, Andy Wolf lived in Fort Bragg working as a military police officer and Iras was assigned to another handler overseas. During this time, Iras required back surgery, which is when Andy Wolf learned the dog would be retired.
According to the Gazette, Joe Wolf said his brother didn't want to ask for financial help, estimating it would cost $6,00o to bring the dog to the U.S., set up the yard for his care and pay for medical needs, but he convinced Andy that people would want to support him.
The fundraising effort was set up a couple of days ago and already raised more than $5,000. In less than a day, Mission K-9 Rescue stepped in to cover the cost of Iras' travel and he will be with Andy in less than two weeks.
"My brother feels indebted to that dog, and we are doing everything possible to allow him to live out his retirement stress-free," Joe Wolf told the newspaper.
The Gazette reported that any surplus funds that aren't used to cover Iras' needs will be donated to help reunite other soldiers with their dogs.
Watch WXMI-TV's report about the effort: