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Soldier's dog goes AWOL before deployment

A Fort Bragg soldier's dog escaped an airline kennel as the pair were preparing to ship out to Saudi Arabia. The Army gave him a temporary reprieve to search for the animal.

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WASHINGTON — Fort Bragg soldier John Weisner was preparing for a year-long deployment to Saudi Arabia with his dog, Jeddah, two weeks ago when the dog turned up missing.

Now, Weisner and his wife are scouring the Washington suburbs to find Jeddah before the end of the month, when Weisner has to ship out.

Weisner and his wife, Ronia, traveled from Fort Bragg to Dulles International Airport outside Washington on July 10 for John Weisner's trip overseas. He had planned to take Jeddah with him to the Middle East, but shortly before he was to board the United Airlines flight, an airline employee told him the dog was missing.

United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said Jeddah escaped a kennel issued by the airlines as it sat on a Dulles ramp waiting to be loaded onto the plane. The airline is investigating how the 4-year-old, tan-and-white hound could have broken out of the kennel, which are usually screwed shut, she said.

The Army granted Weisner a temporary reprieve to find Jeddah, but has told him he needs to deploy by the end of July.

The Weisners have spent the last two weeks in northern Virginia, searching for the dog. Dulles employees and area residents have joined in the search.

The couple started a Web site to collect tips on Jeddah's whereabouts and provide updated information about the search. They also posted a $2,500 reward, which United matched, for the dog's return.