Soldier’s Search & Rescue Mission For Man’s Best Friend

Harker is doing his best to track down Oakley via Craigslist. Photo Credit: Brandon Harker

(PETS) Upon returning from his nine-month deployment overseas, Lt. Brandon Harker expected to come home to his yellow Lab, Oakley. But in actuality, his ‘friend’ who was supposed to be watching Oakley, heartlessly gave the dog away. Now, the soldier is turning to social media for help. Continue reading below to find out what steps Lt. Harker has taken to track Oakley down, and more importantly, what you can do to help. — Global Animal 
Harker is doing his best to track down Oakley via Craigslist. Photo Credit: Brandon Harker
Harker is doing his best to track down Oakley via Craigslist. Photo Credit: Brandon Harker

Huffington Post, Cavan Sieczkowski

When 1st Lt. Brandon Harker returned home from Afghanistan recently, he discovered that the friend who was supposed to be watching his dog while he was deployed had given the animal away. Now, the soldier has turned to Craigslist for help finding his beloved pet.

Harker got Oakley, a purebred yellow Labrador retriever, back in 2011 while he was based in Georgia, according to CNN. Last year, before heading off to Afghanistan, he handed Oakley over to a “good friend” to take care of while he was overseas.

“Every time, while I was gone, I asked about him,” Harker told CNN. His supposed friend would insist the dog was fine and was “acting like his regular self.”

“I’d ask for a picture every now and then,” he said. “But I never got any pictures sent to me.”

Once back in the states, he contacted his friend so he could pick up the pup. That is when Harker found out Oakley had been given away.

Harker confronted the friend, who said he “didn’t know” who he gave Oakley to, according to Washington news outlet KATU.

He decided to turn to social media for help finding his dog. Numerous people contacted him saying they had seen Oakley listed for sale in a February ad on Craigslist. The Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier has since been reaching out to local veterinarians and shelters as he searches for Oakley, who is micro-chipped and registered.

He implored for help in a Craigslist posting on July 24:

I just recently returned from a 9 month deployment. And upon arrival back into the area I found out my yellow labrador retriever was either given away or sold while I was gone. I was told this happened in May, but it could have happened anytime from February till June. He is good with kids and other dogs. He has a unique coat, on his face he has spots of a darker yellow (champagne) he also has spots of the same color going down his sides and legs. If anyone has any information on this and can help me please do. I am just trying to get him back to me since he was wrongfully given away or sold with out my permission while I was deployed. I will also be able to verify the dog is mine because he is micro-chipped and registered to me. Once again thank you to everyone who sees this and tries to help. If you could spread the word about this issues that would be great as well [all sic].

Harker told Seattle-based KING 5 he has “no idea” why his friend gave his dog away, adding, “I wish I knew.”

KING 5 reports the soldier has not heard anything regarding the whereabouts of his pooch, despite his many postings. Various Facebook groups, like Dogs on Deployment, are trying to help locate the dog, BuzzFeed notes. The group is working to reach out to military members across the nation in an attempt to stop the sale of military pets on sites like Craigslist. This practice, done mainly because of deployment and military commitments, can be dangerous for the animals.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Harker through his Craiglist post.

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  1. I work with PACT for Animals, a 501(c)(3) that connects pre-screened foster families with military members and local hospital patients who need temporary pet care. I wish Brandon had known about our organization, because this is exactly what we are here to prevent. We are currently in the PA-NY area but aim to expand throughout the entire USA within 5 years, so that horror stories like Brandon and Oakley's will never happen again. Please go to our website or call 610-581-4141 for more info, to donate, or to become a foster family yourself. We thank the military for their service to our country, I hope we can give them some peace of mind and hope in return.