Skip to Content

TROUBLESHOOTERS: Canine handler continues fight to bring his service dog home

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

Before settling down to the life of a family man, Ralph White decided to join the Army.

He's a former Infantry Sergeant with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Toward the end of his service he joined the Tactical Explosive Detection Dogs Program.

He was assigned to IKAR1 with three weeks left in the program.

"We were going through this training scenario and me and him were going through it so smooth and that's when me and him clicked. It was like ever since then I could understand him. I could read him and he knew what I wanted from him," said White.

IKAR1's actions saved the lives of many soldiers during the year he and white spent together in the field, but when they were shipped home from Afghanistan there was no time to say goodbye.

"...They got on a plane. They took our dogs and they drove away. That was it."

White said he was under the impression that one day IKAR1 would be a permanent part of his family.

He still has his leash today.

"I'm almost 100% certain we signed a document that said we would get our dog when they retired if we were the first handler for that dog and I was and apparently the paperwork and all that just disappeared."

The group Justice for TEDD Handlers has tried to help veterans like White reunite with their canine partners.

Founder Betsy Hampton said White's situation isn't uncommon.

"It unearthed this mismanagement of the TEDD program which we didn't know was going on...The handlers with the TEDD program were treated as inferior to other military working dog handlers," said Hampton.

White feels pushed aside by the Army, but he didn't give up finding IKAR1.

He learned he's at a military base in Fort Bliss, Texas.

Had he not continued his search he would never know his partner is going up for adoption.

He's waiting to hear back from the Kennel Master.

"I know I need to be patient and wait, but every day I don't hear something that kind of makes me worry more and more."

White said he's hopeful he'll get to bring IKAR1 home.

It would be a reunion he's been longing for since 2012.

"It's emotional to think about if I get him back. I want to be there for him when he's done because it's going to be tough for him to make those changes when he's out of the military. That's all he's known his whole life."

He said he's grateful he may have the opportunity to adopt his hero, partner, and best friend.

The TEDD Program ended in 2014.

Heart of Illinois ABC reached out to the Army to ask about IKAR1.

We have not heard back.

Heart of Illinois ABC will continue to follow this developing story.

Jessica Cook

Skip to content