JEBEL ALI, United Arab Emirates – Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) volunteer their time and love, caring for dogs at an animal shelter in Dubai Nov. 14, during the ship’s port visit on its maiden deployment.
K9 Friends is a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides food, water, shelter and medical care to homeless and abused dogs that have been rescued and are being rehabilitated in a process to re-associate them with people.
Twenty-two Sailors and Marines volunteered to assist with walking, grooming and playing with more than 140 dogs.
“I can’t speak for (all of) the Sailors and Marines, but what I think volunteering at the shelter meant for us was a chance to not only serve but to let our hair down and play with dogs,” said Lt. William Brunner, the America’s deputy chaplain. “It’s a chance for us to relate to people who are in different countries.”
K9 Friends has been operating in Dubai for 28 years providing nearly 5,000 dogs with food, water and shelter. The management and finances of the shelter are dependent on volunteers and sponsors.
Volunteering opportunities are designed to unite, strengthen and build positive partnerships with the people of foreign countries visited by U.S. Navy ships.
“The volunteers told us all the work they do on a daily basis and you could tell by their voices they were happy we were there to help,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Charles Pena, assigned to the 15th MEU.
America is the flagship for the America Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
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