Back in 2019, amidst her deployment in Afghanistan, Kristen St. Pierre, leading a dedicated unit of soldiers within the Georgia Army National Guard, forged an unbreakable bond with her trusty bomb-sniffing companion, Chase. In the mission to safeguard the lives of those in Kabul and its vicinity, Chase played a pivotal role. Their daily routine involved being inseparable, with Chase diligently leading the way and ensuring safety at every turn. Reflecting on this, St. Pierre remarked, “Having a dog on the base brought us comfort and a sense of humanity.”
As her tenure in Afghanistan neared its end, St. Pierre faced the heart-wrenching reality of leaving behind her faithful comrade, Chase, who continued his vital duties. Despite the distance, St. Pierre remained connected to her loyal friend through regular updates from Chase’s new handler, staying informed about his activities. Then, on that fateful day of August 15, 2021, the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan marked the conclusion of a two-decade-long conflict. This event triggered a tumultuous period as U.S. troops withdrew, and the Afghan populace sought safety in the midst of the ensuing chaos.
Kristen St. Pierre’s worry for Chase lingered for months as she remained uncertain about his well-being. The situation grew increasingly challenging, especially during the harsh winter following the U.S. withdrawal. Security concerns, essential shortages, and the struggles of Afghan families dominated the scene. Amidst the chaos of Afghanistan, there emerged a beacon of peace—a woman named Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, who had relocated from the United States to Kabul in 2015.
Initially, her presence in Kabul was driven by her pursuit of a Ph.D. However, over time, her affection for the country deepened. In 2018, she initiated the “Kabul Small Animal Rescue” organization, which expanded to encompass 15 clinics and employed 85 dedicated staff members, all thanks to the generosity of individuals who cared passionately about the welfare of animals. With the Taliban’s resurgence in power, her organization encountered significant challenges. In the face of initial restrictions that prevented women from working under the Taliban regime, causing many to leave for their safety, Maxwell-Jones remained resolute in her commitment to the welfare of animals. Despite these obstacles, she continued to do her utmost to care for these creatures in need.
The dedicated efforts of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, in collaboration with the assistance of Pawsome Pets, a Dubai-based organization, were instrumental in their mission to bring abandoned animals to the safety of the United States. Their determination bore fruit in January when they successfully relocated 11 dogs to secure environments. Additionally, they had plans in motion to reunite Chase with four other dogs in the near future. What set Maxwell-Jones and her team apart was their unwavering commitment to Afghanistan, a place she loved deeply. She believed that no one else could care for its animals as passionately and effectively, especially the countless stray dogs and cats in need.
Veterinarian Susan Chadima from Maine lauded Kabul Small Animal Rescue as a beacon of compassion, being the sole organization dedicated to the well-being of dogs, whether they had owners or not. Their efforts extended to reuniting cherished pets with their owners in the Western world. In the midst of adversity, these actions provided a glimmer of hope and the promise of heartwarming reunions.
For almost a year, Kristen St. Pierre had been living in uncertainty, with no updates on Chase’s whereabouts. It was only through a mutual acquaintance that she learned of the tireless efforts of Kabul Small Animal Rescue. In late November 2022, Maxwell-Jones finally located Chase at kennels owned by a local landmine detection company, albeit in a dire condition. Back in the United States, St. Pierre’s daily ritual involved checking Kabul Small Animal Rescue’s social media platforms, yearning for a glimpse of Chase. The moment of elation arrived when she stumbled upon a photograph of him. Overjoyed, she promptly got in touch with the rescue organization, sharing her story and expressing her desire to bring Chase back to the U.S., potentially as his adoptive parent.
Working hand in hand, they pieced together Chase’s journey and initiated a fundraising campaign to secure the $3,500 required for his journey home. The response was nothing short of remarkable, as they achieved their goal within a mere six hours. Simultaneously, St. Pierre embarked on a new chapter in her life, bidding farewell to her military career and transitioning into a role as a nurse in an operating room.
After enduring a considerable amount of waiting and overcoming various bureaucratic obstacles, Chase has finally returned home to be with St. Pierre, where he truly belongs. His transition was remarkably smooth, almost as if no time had elapsed. Now, Chase is gearing up for a brand-new role in his life as the big brother to St. Pierre’s soon-to-be-born baby. There’s no doubt that he’ll excel in this role and be a loving and wonderful big brother.
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