Army Sgt. Peter Neesley took in strays when he was living in his Michigan home. Even when he was living in Baghdad at the military base, this passion for animals and caring for them stayed with him.
Neesley found Mama, a black Labrador mix, and Boris, her white-and-brown puppy, while he was patrolling a neighborhood in Baghdad. He then took it upon himself to care for the dogs.
After one of Mama’s puppies was killed by a car, Neelsey and some of his friends built a doghouse to protect the dogs.
His sister said, “He was determined. He had already been sending us e-mails about how when he came home in July, he was going to find a way to bring them with him.”
But on Christmas morning, Neesley’s family found out that he had died in his sleep.
To honor Neesley’s wishes, the family wanted to bring the dogs to Michigan. They wanted to have something that they could hold and care for that Neesley cared about.
Mama and Boris finally arrived last Friday at the home of Neesley’s mother.
The dogs were picked up in Baghdad earlier in the week by a rapid response manager for the Best Friends Animal Society. Gryphon Holdings LLC, an American-owned airline with service to Iraq, agreed to fly the dogs from Baghdad to Kuwait City.
A veterinarian with the Iraqi Society for Animals vaccinated the dogs and arranged for the health certificates allowing them to travel to the United States.
Now, Mama and Boris are part of Peter in the eyes of his family.
Carey Neesley, Neesley’s sister, said that protecting others was part of his life.
She added, “He’s always had such a strong sense of family and protecting those who can’t protect themselves. Caring for a mother and her stray puppy, why would you ever think to do anything else?”