The Petco Foundation announced Wedesday it awarded the United States War Dogs Association a $250,000 grant to return, reunite and provide medical care for retiring military and other working dogs serving overseas with their handlers.

According to San Diego-based Petco, thousands of dogs serve at home and overseas in all branches of the armed forces but are often retired in the countries in which they’re serving. If overseas, they don’t have access to military transport to go to the U.S.

Proposed legislation would ensure that all military K9 handlers would be guaranteed the opportunity to be reunited with their canine partners, according to the foundation.

The money will be used by the War Dogs Association to help returning military personnel to adopt their dogs and bring them home until the legislation is adopted.

“There’s a bond that forms from the moment you meet your dog,” said Ron Aiello, president of the United States War Dogs Association, based in Burlington, New Jersey.

“You can almost read each other’s minds. It’s a special bond that doesn’t end with your tour of duty and we’re so happy to be able to bring these dogs home.”

Petco Foundation Executive Director Susanne Kogut said the grant will help the canines be “rewarded with a loving home after their years of service.”

The foundation recently gave $2.5 million to build a training facility at the Search Dog Foundation’s National Training Center in Santa Paula. The first-of-its-kind facility will provide a training ground for search and rescue teams and their dogs.

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