After a campaign spurred by talk-radio host Michael Savage, a wounded Army soldier was reunited after 16 months with the Czech German shepherd who helped him hunt buried explosives in Afghanistan.
The Army admitted it had mistakenly allowed the dog, Matty, to be given up for adoption instead of being turned over to his handler, Spc. Brent Grommet. The two were trained in the military’s Tactical Explosive Detection Dog program.
Grommet and Matty were together in Afghanistan when an IED exploded nearby, seriously wounding Grommet, who suffered a spinal injury, hearing loss and post-traumatic stress.
On Friday, Grommet’s father, Don Grommet of DeSoto, Missouri, picked up Matty in South Carolina, where the dog had been adopted, and took him to the soldier’s home base, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
In an interview Monday with Savage, Don Grommet described the happy reunion.
“He knew Brent immediately. It was just so great, to watch that dog jump all over that young man.”
Don Grommet said his son’s demeanor has brightened since the dog returned, and a limp from his injuries even seems less pronounced.
“My son is laughing, smiling, talking more than he has since he came back from Afghanistan,” Grommet told Savage.
Like the reporting you see here? Sign up for free news alerts from WND.com, America’s independent news network.
Savage noted Grommet slept on the dog’s crate when they flew back to the U.S. from service in Afghanistan.
Savage described the story as worthy of a movie.
“This dog, Matty, this big, beautiful Czech shepherd, tried to bite his way out of a metal cage. He’s so attached to this man.”
Listen to Michael Savage’s interview with Don Grommet:
‘No villains here, only heroes’
When they landed at an airbase in New Jersey, Brent Grommet knew that he had to give up the dog for processing before getting him back.
He had filed the required paperwork to own Matty under the federal Robby’s Law, which allows a wounded dog handler to have the first option on adoption.
The Clinton-era law eliminated the practice of putting down the animals after they completed their service.
After not hearing from the Army regarding the adoption, the soldier and his father began searching for Matty and traced the dog to an Army veterinary clinic at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Grommet refiled the adoption application in January, and he was assured he would receive a response within a few weeks. But no one contacted him until an officer at Fort Bragg informed his father that Matty had been adopted.
Matty had been removed from the military after being diagnosed with a subchondral bone cyst. The Army acknowledged that former handlers have the first option to adopt but said Grommet’s request was not forwarded to the Army’s Office of the Provost Marshall General, which manages the program.
In a petition to the White House, supporters of Grommet urged President Obama to intervene.
The petition said: “His family likened Grommet and Matty’s relationship to that of brothers, and said the soldier needs his combat buddy for a healthy recovery. He’s desperately sought Matty since their separation, and has begged the new owner to consider a purchase or barter for the dog.”
Savage called the reunion the result of a collective effort, but he said a radio show has a reach that other media don’t. He urged listeners to contact Army officials and lawmakers. And he noted there were callers to his Veteran’s Day show spotlighting the case who wouldn’t go on the radio but privately told the call screener they had connections and were so angry they were going to call the brigadier general.
“I think that behind the scenes, that is why the dog was reunited,” Savage said.
But he emphasized “there are no villains here, only heroes.”
On the Free Republic news-forum website, readers credited Savage, including one who called him “instrumental in getting this accomplished.”
- “Indeed. He got his own lawyer to work on the case, and has devoted entire programs to it since it came to light.”
- “Yes, Savage was going to spare no expense or unturned rock to get this dog back for this young country defender. Facebook and Twitter got people involved too.”
- “When I heard Savage say Brent slept on top of Matty’s crate during the flight home, my heart was broken. Some of you can sneer, but there is a SPECIAL BOND people have with their dogs. PRAISE GOD! I’m so happy.”
- “Michael Savage took the story and made it national. He hired his law firm to investigate. I think caused the perps to reconsider.”