The Army's Office of the Provost General didn't follow regulations which required that retired service dogs be offered for adoption to their soldier handlers first.
Abby is one of 13 dogs the Army gave to Soliden Technologies LLC, in contravention of procedures stating that the dogs' former handlers should have the first opportunity to adopt them. Instead of being reunited with the veterans with whom they had served overseas, the dogs became pawns in a complicated and ultimately failed scheme to sell them for more work overseas. When the plan to sell the dogs fell through, their caretaker at the time says he was told to "dispose" of them.
|Abby with handler/partner Jake in Afghanistan|
The same day, in emails seen by the Free Beacon, Meredith turned to Army officials Richard Vargus and Robert Squires on the recommendation of an employee at K2.
“I need help Sir and the sooner the better,” Meredith wrote to Vargus. “My heart is heavy knowing that this group has even more dogs to be abandoned and abused. Thank you for speaking with me and any help will be most appreciated. I am out of money and out of time.”
“I know there are some former handlers that will be ecstatic and more than willing to adopt their former wartime companion,” responded Squires, who worked with Vargus on the TEDD program. “Once I receive the list of dogs from you, I will get the dogs adopted out as fast as I can. I appreciate you reaching out to us and looking out for these combat vets!”
But Meredith said shortly afterward he received a call with a dramatically different message.
“Squires told me I had two options,” he said. “One, turn over the dogs to him because they were still [Defense Department] property or, two, he would come take them by force.”
The phone call from Squires was not the only threat Meredith claims he received. On June 22, 2015, a man named Jerry Avery showed up unannounced at Mount Hope looking for Abby.
“[Avery] wanted to buy Abby from me,” Meredith said. “He had $5,000 in cash in his hand and I told him the dog wasn’t for sale. That’s when they started threatening me that they were going to come take them all by force and if they didn’t they were going to get a group of lawyers to put me out of business.”
Squires denies he threatened to take the dogs from Meredith by force. In an email to the Free Beacon, he said the Army was willing to help him reunite the dogs with their handlers, but that any compensation for the dogs’ care was a private matter between Meredith and Soliden.
He also said the Army has no say over what happens to TEDD dogs once they are adopted.
“Once Soliden Technology adopted the dogs, it’s on them on what happens with the dogs,” Squires said in a separate phone conversation with the Free Beacon. “The government no longer has any say-so with the dogs once they’re adopted.”
Squires became agitated as the interview continued, saying the handlers needed to “put their big boy pants on” and “grow up.”
“It’s not against the law to adopt the dogs to whoever the hell the government wants to,” Squires said. “It’s the government’s dogs, it’s not the damn handler’s dogs. Do you understand that? It belongs to the Department of Defense; it does not belong to those individual handlers.”
“Don’t call me again, fucker, you understand me?” Squires said.
Vargus referred all questions to Army Public Affairs when contacted by the Free Beacon.