DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Marine sergeant from Wisconsin thought he was going to Iowa to convince state officials that the K-9 dog he worked with while he was serving in Afghanistan belonged with him. What he didn't know was that decision had already been made and the four-year-old yellow labrador was there waiting for him.
Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach spent most of his time in Afghanistan with Casey by his side, sniffing for bombs and other explosives. But the pair's time together ended last June.
Gundlach said he promised himself if they made it out alive, he would do whatever it took to find her.
"The first time I talked to him on the phone, I go 'Hey look if I can pull this off are you willing to drive to Iowa to get your dog? And he said, 'Look, I would swim to Japan to get my dog,'" said Iowa State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds.
"I owe her, you know. I owe her. It's like I want to take care of her, but I owe her.
I'll just try to give her the best life she can have from here on out," Gundlach said.
Gundlach tracked the dog to Des Moines where the state fire marshal's office was employing Casey as an explosives detection dog.
Reynolds knew replacing Casey would cost the department $8,500. So he called the Iowa Elks Association for help. It took only three hours for the group to come up with the entire amount.
Authorities said Casey's replacement, Vega, is already hard at work. Casey and Gundlach have also started their new lives together far away from bombs and explosives.