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National Guardsman traveling 1,300 miles to adopt Hurricane Maria dogs at Charleston Animal Society

Pumpkin (Source: Charleston Animal Society) Pumpkin (Source: Charleston Animal Society)
Benji (Source: Charleston Animal Society) Benji (Source: Charleston Animal Society)

A National Guardsman is trekking across the country to Charleston to reunite with two dogs who stole a piece of his heart after Hurricane Maria. 

Michael Henn is driving 1,300 miles from Lincoln, Nebraska to adopt the two dogs who go by "Pumpkin" and "Benji". He's expected to arrive around noon Saturday.

Henn and several other soldiers bonded with the dogs on their hurricane deployment to St. Croix. 

“I was with two of my fellow soldiers one night, when we saw this white dog walk up to us," Henn said. "She was beautiful and we pet her and gave her treats." 

From there, the soldiers met Benji and ended up making trips to the grocery store during their time off to buy supplies like soap and flea medicine. 

“We fell in love with them," Henn said. "We noticed they were happy together. A local told us the owners had passed away before the hurricane and the dogs had been abandoned." 

While it may seem easier to fly the two dogs to Nebraska, the national guardsman said he ran into several roadblocks.  

According to Henn the airline pet transport services were not running, the Air Force couldn’t help, and other agencies said “no,” until he contacted the ASPCA. 

On November 30, 30 dogs were brought to the Charleston Animal Society for adoption from the emergency shelter in the Virgin Islands.  

“My stepmom and younger brother are coming with me,” Henn said. “She is going to drive the first leg, and I will finish the 20-hour drive.” 

Henn said there are plans to make Pumpkin and Benji the mascots of the 67th MEB after they arrive back home in Lincoln. 

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