- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Jason Sargent is expected to arrive in Erie on Dec. 15 after finishing as an independent government security contractor and weapons instructor in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In late January, the 27-year-old former Mercyhurst University student hopes to reunite in Erie with a female puppy he rescued on an Afghanistan mountain in September.

The dog, whom he and his security detail named Charlie, is being cared for at the Kabul-based Nowzad clinic, a nonprofit organization that treats and shelters Afghan strays rescued by troops and Afghan residents.

Nowzad has treated more than 700 animals since it was established in 2007, according to information on the Nowzad website.

Charlie, a 5-month-old hound, was scheduled to be released from the Afghan clinic in late December.

But her quarantine was extended to 60 days from 30 days earlier this past week after veterinarians there discovered the dog contracted the parasitic infection leishmaniasis, which is acquired when sandflies transmit the parasite into the skin of a host.

“She is responding well to treatment, but I was told by the veterinarians that she will have to take pills to treat it for the rest of her life,” Sargent said.

Sargent, a West Palm Beach, Florida, native and former U.S. Marine, has helped establish a GoFundMe account, and hopes to raise $4,000 to cover the dog’s treatment and transportation to Erie.

As of Dec. 4, the fund had raised $1,450.

Sargent said he hopes to bring Charlie to a new home in Erie as an emotional support dog for a veteran.

“Because she is required to stay in Afghanistan for 60 days and not 30 days like the normal quarantine, I assume that will cost more than the original $4,000,” Sargent said.

The dog has cuts and lesions on her nose and mouth - effects of the parasitic infection.

“If it goes untreated, it can affect a dog’s liver, kidneys and pancreas,” Sargent said. “She got treated early. Without treatment, she would have died.”

Sargent and members of his security detail were on patrol in late September at an altitude of about 7,000 feet in mountains near their Kabul compound when they heard something whimpering.

They found the dog and took her back to their compound.

“She’s meant a lot to me,” Sargent said. “In a place where we’re constantly stressed out and worried about security and a place that’s so inhospitable and largely negative toward us, she is a nice reminder that there is something so innocent and worth saving.”

Sargent served in the U.S. Marines from 2005 to 2011, attaining the rank of sergeant.

Sargent said he is one to two semesters shy of earning his bachelor of science degree in neuroscience and bachelor of arts degree in Russian from Mercyhurst University.

His girlfriend lives in Erie.

Sargent is considering taking another security job either in Afghanistan or in northern Africa in 2016.

“I’m doing what I can to make sure I can be in Erie when Charlie gets there,” he said.





Information from: Erie Times-News, https://www.goerie.com

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