Mercy, who appears to be a female German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois, was found by a US Marine patrol in the Helmund Province. She approached the patrol and by her behavior and evidence of prior care, they immediately assumed she was a trained working dog of some sort. But she was a trained working dog that was obviously lost.
The Marines brought her back with them to Camp Dwyer where Lt. Col. Kevin Banks, a radiologist, tried to find a microchip that would reveal her identity.
Unfortunately Mercy was not micro-chipped. After three weeks at Camp Dwyer, where Lt. Col. Banks cared for her, the Veterinary Services were unable to identify any owner/handler – either from the US military, other military or civilian agencies.
Since no owner had been found, Lt. Col Banks wanted Mercy to go home with him. He felt if she were unable to be adopted out of the country she would need to be euthanized.
He said, “My family wants to give her a loving home so that she can be happy and a wonderful part of our lives, as well as to avoid her senseless destruction for simply having been lost.”
He contacted Nowzad Dogs in hopes of rescuing her, and Mercy was eventually transferred to the Nowzad shelter.
However, her life with the Banks’ was not yet assured.
Mercy was next sent to the British Working Dog section where they also tried to trace her owner. If an owner was unable to be found, she was to be assessed as a working dog. If she passed the assessments, the British intended to keep her as a working dog.
Neither of these options panned out for Mercy. It was still possible that she could have belonged to Afghan security forces or even to a private company, but there was no way of finding this out.
So finally it was determined that Mercy would belong to Lt. Col Banks and his wife Nancy! Generous gifts by friends of the Banks’ helped fund her rescue, and SAC Fund donors contributed the final amount she needed to make her way home.
We received this from LTC. Banks:
“Thank you so very much for your help with Mercy’s rescue and the contribution by the SAC Fund! It is incredible to think that her rescue is actually going to happen. I was not so hopeful a month ago when I first met her. I have been fortunate to have received a lot of generous gifts from family and friends to assist with getting Mercy home … Thank you again for you work on Mercy’s behalf and all the other animals of Nowzad.”
On February 8, 21012, Mercy made it home to Houston!
Life and Dog magazine was there to record her arrival and wrote this article:
Mercy Arrives in America
The strength of the bond with a canine companion is something only a dog lover can know.
Imagine how strong that bond would be if you were stationed in a combat zone with the military and became the sole source of survival for a dog in need. That is the story of Mercy and Lt. Col. Kevin Banks from San Antonio, Texas who met while Kevin was stationed in Afghanistan. Banks, a radiologist, first met Mercy when she was flown into his station as a patient. Due to her breed, when she was found wandering the streets, the military personnel first assumed she was a working dog. Banks was to use his skills to search for a hidden microchip in case she was chipped already and the veterinarian team simply could not find it. After much research, it was ruled that Mercy was not a working dog and was a stray. Kevin could not bear to see her returned to a life on the street where she would undoubtedly meet a horrible demise or be put down and immediately began trying to save her. She lived and worked with Kevin for weeks while he researched ways for her to get home.
Nancy Banks, Kevin’s wife who is also with the US Army, and was back at home in San Antonio, began researching organizations who could assist them and discovered Nowzad Dogs. The Banks worked with Nowzad over the next several months, and Mercy started her long journey home through many areas of Afghanistan, some time at the Nowzad shelter and then a 14-hour flight to Houston to be reunited with Kevin and his wife. We were notified that Mercy would be arriving in Houston and could not wait to meet her and chronicle her arrival from the first moments she saw Kevin, when she met Nancy, and her first steps on US soil. You can look forward to the full story on Nowzad Dogs in the next issue of LIFE+DOG as well as additional photos of Kevin, Nancy and Mercy. Below is a series of photos from Mercy’s arrival.
Lt. Col. Kevin banks first sees Mercy as she arrives in the facility.
Kevin and Mercy are reunited.
Mercy meets her new mom.
Mercy and her family head home.
We now have some even more recent photos of Mercy with her wonderful new family in Texas – including her new “siblings” Joey, a black standard poodle, Toby, a black and white border collie, and Blueberry, a small mixed breed.
LTC Banks says Mercy is “doing great and fitting in well with our family.”