Stray dog rescued by U.S. airman in N. Macedonia finds new home in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) -- A journey more than 5,000 miles in the making ended with a stray dog finding a new home in Minneapolis.  But it wouldn't have happened without quite the effort from a member of our U.S. Military.

An active duty member of the Air Force working in North Macedonia had a chance encounter with a stray dog that would completely change the course of this dog’s life.

"It’s a true rags-to-riches story," said Jenni Smith, Ruff Start Rescue.

Six months ago, the dog, Mila, was living on the streets of North Macedonia when she was hit by a car outside the U.S. Embassy.

"We're just leaving the embassy after work one day, and we see this sad looking black dog," recalls Mark Weinandt.

Weinandt serves in the Air Force and works at the embassy. He and his wife took Mila to the vet and over several months nursed her back to health. 

"The intention was to find a good home for her here in North Macedonia," said Weinandt. "Unfortunately, that just doesn't happen much here."

So Weinandt contacted his cousin in Minnesota who works for Ruff Start Rescue. 

"They’re high kill shelters,” said Smith. “She had no chance. She would actually have a better chance being a stray than in the shelters.”

Using mostly his own money, he took three flights through several countries before Mila finally landed in Minneapolis. A 5,000-mile journey that landed her at her forever home.

“I think it just goes to show how much he cared about her and that we can make a difference for at least one animal," said Mike Fairman.

Fairman, Mila's new owner, is an Army veteran and his wife used to work at the VA. So that military connection to the man who rescued Mila is also very special to this family.

Fairman said Mila is adjusting well to domestic life. She has graduated from the first level of puppy school and plays well with her new family.

“We feel lucky and we got the right dog for our family,” said Fairman.