BUFFALO, Minn. (KMSP) - A very special statue set at the grave site of a veteran was stolen, but is now back in its rightful place.
Dave Larsen carried the statue of the military K-9 back to his cousin’s grave at the cemetery in Buffalo, Minn. on Tuesday.
“I’ll try not to tear up, but I’m very happy,” said Larsen. “I know Rory’s happy.”
Just two weeks ago, the rain left a muddy and very empty space next to Staff Sgt. Rory Gavic’s grave. A replica of Gavic’s K-9 military dog Allan had been stolen and hearts were broken. Amazingly, Allan was turned in to police.
“Whoever took him or whoever had him must have put him at the south public access of Howard Lake,” said Larsen. “A gentleman found him there and brought him home and it was his wife who said, 'Hey I recognize that dog it’s been on Fox news.'”
Gavic served three tours with his K-9 partner Allan in the Air Force, but when Gavic returned, he suffered from PTSD and took his own life. His mother couldn’t take the pain and took her own life three years later. Before she died, she had the statue made. She knew how important Allan was to her son and wanted the dog to watch over him.
“The last time I got to see my cousin Rory was at a family reunion,” said Larsen. “He told me the story about how he got separated from his unit and the only reason he made it back safely was because of Allan.”
Now with Allan back in place, about $5,500 raised to replace the statue will go to the Wounded Warriors Project instead.
“Wounded Warriors happens to be one of the organizations that’s really at the forefront trying to help make things better for veterans,” said Larsen.
While Gavic’s life ended tragically, Larsen sees the bond he shared with his dog as unbreakable and never-ending.
“In this whole wide world, I don’t think there was anything that more to him than Allan,” said Larsen. “He didn’t have children, but he always had Allan.”
Police do not know who took the statue. Larsen says he plans to anchor the statue so that Allan stays by his partner's side forever.