ESCONDIDO, Calif.— For military members, there is no greater moment than reuniting with family after a long deployment. But hugs and kisses aren't always reserved for spouses or children.
For some in the military, pets are an important part of the family. Just ask Lt. Commander Anthony Ortman, who was separated from his dog Onyx for nearly nine months. But thanks in part to the nonprofit Dogs on Deployment, he knew his 2-year old pit bull mix was in good hands.
"It feels amazing to be able to provide this service, " said Cameron Thompsen with the Hope2k9 Foundation. "Service members are often deployed for long periods of time without solutions for their pets, as they go away for months, and sometimes a year at a time. Often, if family or friends are not local, dogs are at risk of being re-homed."
Thompsen said fostering a dog is free, and calls it an easy way to give back In fact, she's volunteered a number of times. She had Onyx for 275 days and was so excited for his reunion with Ortman.
"It was great," Ortman said. "I've been wanting to meet back up with him."
He called Dogs on Deployment and Hope2K9 a match made in heaven.
"Hope 2K9 sent me pictures and videos of Onyx all the time and it was great," Ortman said. "It's kind of cliche when they say your dog is like your kid, because I don't have kids, and it is definitely tough."
It was certainly a tough nine months, but now Ortman and his best friend Onyx are reunited.
This story was originally published by Steve Smith on Scripps station KGTV in San Diego.