Press Releases

U.S. Veteran to be Reunited with Companion Dog

Harley, a one-year-old companion dog, was previously facing deportation to Jordan over a paperwork mistake where she would have likely been euthanized

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Washington, September 3, 2020 | comments

QUEENS, NY – Representatives Kathleen Rice (NY-04), Peter King (NY-02), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), and Tom Suozzi (NY-03) today announced that Harley, a one-year old companion dog for a U.S. military veteran, has officially been granted entry in the United States and is set to be reunited with her owner, Staff Sergeant AJ Kirrish. Harley was previously set to be deported to Jordan as the result of a mistake with her paperwork when she arrived at JFK International Airport on August 24. The Long Island delegation members had sent a letter on Tuesday to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield to advocate for the dog’s release.

Staff Sergeant Kirrish met Harley during a combat tour in the Middle East. Harley was then brought to the United States from Jordan with the assistance of Paws of War, a Long Island-based organization that matches rescue dogs with American veterans experiencing the emotional effects of war. After initially rejecting Harley entry on the grounds of invalid paperwork, and after denying Paws of War’s subsequent appeal, the CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have officially issued a permit allowing Harley to remain in the United States. 

“I am simply overwhelmed with joy for Staff Sergeant Kirrish and Harley, and I am so relieved they will be reunited soon,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the primary co-sponsor of a bill to pair veterans with service dogs. “I thank my colleagues in the Long Island delegation for coming together on this issue, and I am grateful to the CDC and HHS for doing the right thing and allowing Harley entry into the United States.” 

“Words cannot describe the appreciation that my wife and I have for all the hard work and support from every single person involved,” said Staff Sergeant AJ Kirrish. “We are eternally humbled and grateful. We are counting down the days to be reunited with our little girl, Harley.”

“We are beyond thrilled Harley will be reunited with her family,” said Robert Misseri, the co-founder and president of Paws of War. “Thank you to Congresswoman Rice and the entire Long Island congressional delegation for their hard work. They made a true difference and helped bring this story to a very happy ending.” 

Harley is receiving a new rabies vaccination today and must remain quarantined until October 2, 2020 in order to complete a mandatory 28-day waiting period after the vaccination. Following the waiting period, Harley can be reunited with her family. 

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Tags: Veterans