Local News

Bomb-sniffing dog returns to military handler after custody fight

Posted November 23, 2015

Deon Fuller said Howard has found a happy home with his Hoke County family.

— A pit bull who served as a bomb-sniffing dog in the military returned on Monday to his handler after a weeks-long social media battle that cost a Hoke County sheriff's deputy his job.

Then-deputy Deon Fuller adopted the dog and named him Howard after his military service was complete.

But the dog's handler, Alex Reimer, started a Facebook campaign to bring the dog to Colorado where he now lives. The Facebook page, "Bring Howard Home," accumulated more than 35,000 likes.

Reimer said he lost track of Howard in 2013 but recently located the dog in Fayetteville and asked the Fuller family to return him.

They resisted, and the disagreement over Howard's rightful home drew national attention.

Reimer did not say on Monday what finally prompted Fuller to return the dog, but Mission K-9 Rescue posted photos of the dog boarding a plane from Raleigh-Durham International Airport bound for Colorado.


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  • Nicolle Leney Nov 24, 2015
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    When a dog's military handler is finished, the dog goes on to another handler. So unless the current handler provided updates, he would have not been able to keep up with the dog. He would have not known when the dog was retiring. When a dog retires, the handlers are supposed to be able to adopt them first (I'm assuming the current handler would have first "dibs"). But Alex never got notified that the dog had retired.

  • Sam Adams Nov 24, 2015
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    This is becoming more and more of a problem with WRAL. It seems more often they are reporting on a story while cherry picking the facts that suit them best. Shame on WRAL.

  • Nancy Carroll Nov 24, 2015
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    WRAL has had problems with the facts in this case from the beginning.
    Howard was this dog's name
    before he and Alex served overseas
    Deon Fuller lost his job when he threatened to use his LEO powers to
    track down & sue the posters on a Howard support Face Book page .
    Fuller actually admitted this on a WRAL news report on Oct 20th but WRAL still twist this fact.

  • Stacie Hagwood Nov 24, 2015
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    How does one "lose track" of the dog? I agree that there is more to the story. I'd like to hear about that part before passing judgment on either party. And FWIW, there are a TON of pitfalls out there waiting to be adopted. Just saying'.

  • Angel Nardo-Myers Nov 24, 2015
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    do you really think he lost his job over this? The Sheriff said it had nothing to do with the dog. But I'm sure it's better for him to say it was the dog instead of the truth.

  • Debbie Sawyer Nov 24, 2015
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    WRAL...I'm pretty sure you helped this happen with half truths, started on social media. We don't know the whole story but this deputy should never have lost his job over this.

  • Jayne Stitzel Nov 24, 2015
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    Deputy Fuller did not name Howard, he got that name from the county shelter he was rescued from before he became a military dog. He was deployed and served with distinction, saving many lives in Afganistan, including Alex Reimer, who was his first partner. The story is not at all presented factually, WRAL has done prior reporting on Howard. Just a little fact checking would have been so easy.