Close this search box.
Close this search box.

A K9 Homecoming

The Journey Home for 60 Working Canines during the Pandemic

Explosive detection dogs are hardworking experts when it comes to scenting chemicals used in incendiary devices. They work hard to keep our teams, our customers and the public safe. When our Certified Working Dogs (CWD) return home from overseas at the end of their contract work, AMK9, a Constellis company, facilitates their reassignment or retirement (adoption).

Last June, our K9 teams were providing explosive detection services on a contract in Iraq when COVID-19 hit. The contract suddenly closed prior to the scheduled completion date, and we needed to get the hard-working canines back home to the United States amid border lockdowns, limited flights and Iraq Government office closures.

Constellis’ Iraq Project Management staff led by Pieter Coetzer procured living accommodations and additional K9 personnel to care and provide for the canines until a flight home became available. For nine months, the K9 team in Iraq safeguarded the 60 canines. The dogs were walked five times a day, fed, groomed and provided with necessary veterinary care.

The Constellis K9 team in Moyock, NC, led by Kennel Manager Jenn Merello, developed a plan to receive the canines in Chicago, IL, and transport them back to North Carolina. They worked closely with canine adoption agencies and the freight forwarders to coordinate travel and the future adoptions for all of the dogs ready for retirement.


Once the flights were confirmed and the final customs immigration paperwork completed, the Constellis Iraq team convoyed the 60 canines from the compound to the Basra International Airport. The canines, along with K9 chaperone, Project Manager Tim Cassidy, were boarded onto a plane and flown 26 hours from Basra, Iraq, to Chicago, IL, USA, where they were received by our Moyock K9 team and K9 Hero Haven Adoption Agency. The Constellis Moyock team convoyed the dogs the rest of the way home from Chicago to Moyock and arrived safely at the kennels the next day. All 60 canines made it home safely, where 40 of them will continue work on other contracts and 20 will be adopted out to loving homes.

Happily Ever-After for K9 Bara

Certified Working Dog (CWD) Bara is a 7.5-year-old female sable German Shepherd who recently returned home from Iraq and is now in the loving home of her new owners, Matt and Megan. Matt served in the Marine Corps from September 2003 to August 2012, serving two tours in Iraq and one tour in Africa. They look forward to enjoying Bara’s retirement with her on their farm in Linden, PA.

If you’d like to apply to adopt one of our amazing canines, please visit our K9 adoption partner, k9herohaven.org


In 2015, we conducted a similar operation for 92 dogs that completed assignment in Afghanistan. Constellis has always promised to bring its canines home when their mission is complete, either to continue working or to find an adoptive family to enjoy their hard-earned retirement.

> Learn more