American Humane Reunites Retired Military Working Dog with Handler in Arizona

American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, recently reunited retired Military Working Dog Irk, a 9-year-old German Shepherd, with Staff Sergeant Sheridyn Rupp, his former handler and best friend, in Phoenix.

“We at American Humane honor the lifesaving contributions of all veterans, including the four-legged military dogs who risk their lives to courageously serve our country,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “Tragically, these K-9 veterans are still sometimes separated from their human counterparts, who they formed a deep bond with. We are honored to reunite SSgt Rupp with MWD Irk, and wish Irk a happy, peaceful retirement with the person he loves best.”

MWD Irk is trained as a Patrol Narcotics Detection Dog. He served his time at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois for six years, helping to train his handlers on the basics and tactics of working with a Military Working Dog. While assigned with SSgt Rupp, the two conducted daily trainings on obedience, bite-work, narcotic detection and base security measures. The two have been separated for a year.

“Irk is one of the sweetest K-9s I have met,” said SSgt Rupp. “He is brave and served with all his heart. However, because of his age, he is starting to slow down, and the decision was made to give him a loving home and a couch to lay on for his retirement. I am so grateful to be reunited with Irk and cannot wait to give him the retirement he deserves.”

SSgt Rupp was on active duty for eight years. She now serves in the Reserves at Luke Air Force Base, working as a diet therapy technician.

Retired MWDs often have medical issues stemming from their physical jobs, so American Humane veterinarian Dr. Lesa Staubus traveled to Arizona to ensure MWD Irk’s health and safety. The reunion took place at the Lulu’s Fund headquarters in Phoenix. Lulu’s Fund, which is part of the Timothy T. Day Foundation, supports organizations in the animal rescue community throughout the United States.

American Humane recently launched a Military Working Dog Reunification fund, which will make it possible to bring even more K-9 veterans home, thanks to the help of donors. Proceeds from the fund will also provide free specialty and preventative medical care to make retired MWDs as healthy and comfortable as possible during retirement. To learn more, visit

About Karen Werner

Karen Werner is the editor of Frontdoors Media. She is a writer, editor and media consultant. She has interned at The New Yorker, worked at Parents Magazine, edited five books and founded several local magazines. Her work has appeared in Sunset, Mental Floss and the Saturday Evening Post.
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