A good Samaritan with deep pockets chartered a private jet to fly a Marine's dogs across the country to the soldier's new base on Sunday, after the pets were deemed too big to travel on commercial flights.
Helen Rosburg, the great-granddaughter of chewing gum industrialist William Wrigley, said she was more than happy to help out Andrew Morales and his family upon hearing that they may have to leave their beloved pets behind.
"He was going to lose his dogs and I said 'Not on my watch,'" said Rosburg. "He's a hero on so many different levels. The Wrigleys are an extremely patriotic family and I am a true Wrigley child."
Morales had rescued Dusty and Wyatt while on an overseas tour of duty almost three years ago and could not bear to part with the two part-Anatolian Shepherds.
"In Afghanistan, they are pretty much your best friend," Morales told ABC Affiliate WWAY.
After he was reassigned from his base in southern California to camp Lejeune, N.C., in October, Morales called various airlines to book travel for the dogs, but was told that the dogs were too big for commercial planes landing at the airport at his new base.
He called the rescue league that had initially helped bring the dogs back from Afghanistan, and they made an online appeal on the family's behalf.
Rosburg, a self-described animal lover, said she first heard about the family's plight after a friend posted the appeal on her Facebook wall.
Rosburg acknowledged she has a reputation for rescuing animals and at-risk youth, as well as supporting the military.
"Everybody in my circle knows what I do," said Rosburg. "If they see an impossible situation, they'll post something to my [Facebook] timeline."
Rosburg is a horse exhibitor and published romance novelist who raises German shepherds for "personal protection, military, police, service." She is the founder of animal rescue organization, On the Wings of Angels Rescue, and has pigs, chickens, goats, cattle, donkeys, rabbits, cats and exotic birds on her farm in Tampa, Fla.
The family said they were thrilled that Rosburg came to their rescue, and said they would love to thank her in person one day.
"From the bottom of me and my wife's hearts we really appreciate what she did for us," said Morales.
They may just be able to, if Rosburg has anything to do with it. The heiress said she would "absolutely" love to meet them. "We've just got to find a way to get together," she said.
Last year, a former Marine, Shaun Duling, raised $4,000 to be reunited with a dog he was forced to leave behind in Afghanistan. Duling enlisted the help of an organization called Nowzad, which helps rescue animals in Afghanistan, to bring the stray back to his home in Alexandria, Va.
- William Wrigley