When Army platoon commander Kristen St. Pierre returned from her tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2019, she left behind one of her best pals on base: Chase, a bomb-sniffing dog who’d become her constant companion.
Even after returning stateside, Chase was never far from her mind. She kept in touch with Chase’s new handler and enjoyed photos and updates.
Then, in 2021, United States troops abruptly exited Afghanistan after 20 years of conflict. As thousands of Afghans and foreign nationals scrambled to evacuate before the Taliban took power, St. Pierre wondered what happened to her old pal.
Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps via AP
"I heard Chase and other dogs would be on flights to the U.S. and Europe," St. Pierre told CBS News. "The next I heard the dogs weren’t allowed on the planes and they were released from the airport with little chance of survival."
At home in Georgia, where she’d served in the Army National Guard, St. Pierre feared the worst. Eventually, she learned about Kabul Small Animal Rescue, a nonprofit vet clinic and shelter run by an American woman living in Kabul.
St. Pierre started checking KSAR’s social media accounts in hopes of seeing Chase. Eventually, St. Pierre glimpsed a photo of Chase on one of KSAR’s accounts.
"I gasped," said St. Pierre. "I screamed, 'Chase! Chase! Chase!' I just couldn’t believe he was alive."
Then began the long process of getting Chase back home — for KSAR, that meant navigating the Taliban bureaucracy to export the dog, and then ensuring he complied with all U.S. regulations once he arrived.
He finally made it! KSAR shared this photo of Chase’s happy reunion with St. Pierre:
St. Pierre picked up Chase in Knoxville, Tenn., then took him home to Georgia, where she and her husband are expecting a baby.
"It’s amazing to be with him," St. Pierre told CBS.
This story originally appeared on Simplemost.