WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Animal shelters often see an influx of pets when member of the military have to deploy. One organization hopes to change that by finding foster parents for the animals.
Technical Sgt. Marco Kalkbrenner was ready to deploy to Afghanistan, when he found out a friend could not watch his boxer Jake.
"It was getting to that point where I was going to have to give away Jake, and I was kinda heartbroken," Kalkbrenner said.
The airman based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base searched online and found Dogs on Deployment. It's an organization started last summer by a military couple who realized the need for foster pet parents.
"We thought it was a good idea to provide a network for military members to find people to watch pets when fulfilling their military commitments," founder Alisa Johnson said.
Within no time, Kalkbrenner was matched up with Aimee Kryszcvynski.
"Our servicemen give back so much to us, so this is the least I could do," she said.
Kryszcvynski took photos and videos of Jake and sent them to Kalkbrenner while he was in Afghanistan. It helped put his mind at ease.
"Instead of being in Afghanistan worried about what's going on with my dog, I'm able to focus on my job and not worry about is my dog being treated good or is he all right," Kalkbrenner said.
After nearly six months, Kalkbrenner returned to North Carolina. He and jake were quickly reunited. It was a bittersweet but rewarding moment for Kryszcvynski.
"I knew this was not my dog. I was doing a service, but he became a part of my family," she said. "But I also knew he needed to go back home where he belonged."
Since Dogs on Deployment started, it has matched up 100 animals, including dogs, cats and even a turtle.