Soldier, sheriff's deputy fight over custody of Army dog

Army veteran and Minnesota native Alex Reimer is in the middle of a different kind of battle. The Forest Lake High School graduate is retired from the military and wants his partner Howard, the bomb-sniffing pit bull he served with overseas, back by his side.

But Howard’s new owner says no.

Reimer says he was the dog's first handler. Reimer remembers Howard alerting on a van in Afghanistan with weapons and explosives which saved lives.

“He saved not only my life, but there were weapons in that van that night that could have been turned on us and there could have been an IED in there,” Reimer says. “There was an IED in that same van two days later which saved some other people's lives."

Reamer now lives in Colorado and hasn’t seen the dog since 2013. He recently located Howard at a home in Fayetteville, North Carolina and had a friend check on him. Reimer claims the dog was tethered to a tree in the front yard. He says that's not the way a dog that's saved American lives should be treated.

The former soldiers say he suffers from PTSD and feels having Howard back would help him heal.

“I dream about the times that me and Howard had together, the rough times and good times,” Reimer says. “It's just... Just tough knowing your best friend is out there tied to a tree and not being taken care of to the best their ability.”

Deon Fuller, Howard’s new owner, says that's not so. He's a Hoke County Sheriff's Deputy but he worked for the Taylortown Police Department in Moore County when he acquired Howard. He says the dog is with a loving family.

“As of right now I’m saying Howard is my dog and he is home with myself and my family,” Fuller says.

Animal Control investigated the allegations of mistreatment and say Howard is being cared for well. Fuller says a Facebook page called "Bring Howard Home" has been filled with threatening messages aimed at him and his family.

The Facebook page Remier started has more than 19,000 likes. On it, Reimer wrote that as Howard’s first handler, he should have been notified once Howard was up for retirement.

Fuller says he's not completely against the idea of giving the dog back, but for now, Howard is staying with him.


Original reporting by WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina.