Seven dogs were rescued near a U.S. military base in the Middle East thanks to Paws of War, a Nesconset-based non-profit organization that rescues dogs from war zones. NewsdayTV's Virginia Huie reports.  Credit: Anthony Florio

Seven dogs rescued from a “hostile” area near a U.S. military base in the Middle East will have a chance at a new life, thanks to a Long Island charity. 

Paws of War, a Nesconset-based nonprofit that rescues dogs from war zones, on Wednesday brought back seven puppies who bonded with U.S. soldiers stationed in the Middle East.

The male dogs — King, Hades, Shilo, Socks, Milo, Pedro and Ulfhednar — are brothers that were abandoned and found “vulnerable and malnourished.” The dogs' father had died and their mother was nowhere to be found, said Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. The soldiers nursed the dogs back to health over the span of four months.

“They fell in love with them and vice versa,” Misseri said. “They knew they could not leave them behind. They feared the worst and the worst would have happened to them.”

Robert Misseri, of Paws of War, on Wednesday with the dogs that had recently been rescued from outside a U.S. military base in the Mideast. Credit: John Roca

It took four attempts over two months to rescue the dogs due to the “hostile environment” around the base, which was recently targeted in several drone attacks. 

Misseri said he depends on a team of people who live overseas to rescue the dogs as quickly and safely as possible. The location of the base was withheld for the safety of the soldiers who are still deployed.

The Paws of War charity trains dogs to be service animals for veterans and pairs cats and dogs with first responders as companion animals. 

Once the puppies were brought to a safe space, they underwent 30 days of quarantine, as well as vaccinations and paperwork, to legally enter the United States. The puppies will be reunited with their soldiers once they return from active duty in about two months.

Derek Cartwright, of Ronkonkoma, who served in the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq in 2012, traveled to the base for the rescue and oversaw the dogs as they traveled to the United States.

During his time in Iraq, the veteran was almost killed by a roadside bomb. He has PTSD and has a service dog, Zeus, that was trained by Paws of War.

This trip was Cartwright's fifth rescue mission for the charity. This litter is the largest group he has rescued. 

“It brought back some memories,” he said.

While serving in 2012, he had befriended a dog named Hercules that he had to leave behind because this program did not yet exist. Cartwright said not knowing what happened to Hercules inspires him to help other dogs have a future.

“Being able to donate my time and make sure that things like this can happen, there's no greater feeling,” he said.

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