ZARY, Poland –
Lt. Katie Choi has always loved animals.
Though her two dogs, a miniature Australian shepherd named Ocean, and a dachshund mix, Evergreen, are 5,267 miles away in Portland, Oregon, Choi was able to find a way to spend some time with dogs in Zary, Poland, and perform a little community service at the same time.
Choi and two of her fellow Soldiers with the 652nd Regional Support Group out of Helena, Montana, Spc. Lauren Smith, from Eureka, Montana, and Staff Sgt. Joel Brown, from Casper, Wyoming, who are all mobilized to Poland, spent a couple hours Nov. 26 walking 12 dogs at the Zary Animal Shelter.
The dogs, who were found abandoned and brought in by police and concerned citizens, seemed to enjoy the attention, especially a cattle dog named Verdin, who ran Brown to the point of exhaustion.
“I haven’t run like that in five years!” a gasping Brown said after running with Verdin.
Patricia, one of four employees who work at the shelter, said they don’t have enough time to walk all 67 of the dogs at the shelter, so volunteers assist.
“If we didn’t have volunteers, the dogs would probably just sit in their cages,” she said.
Choi, a human resources officer from Seattle, Washington, runs the mayor cell at the base camp in Trzebien, Poland. The mayor cell teams are responsible for tending to the basic needs of the Soldiers at the base camps – such as providing food, shelter, and other everyday services like laundry, shower and gym services.
Aside from their duties managing the base operations at each base camp, each mayor cell team with the 652nd has worked to establish a relationship with their local communities in Poland.
When Choi learned about the shelter in Zary from one of the linguists at Trzebien who knew of Choi’s love of animals, Choi immediately wanted to become involved.
Not only did it help the dogs, it helped the Soldiers as well.
“I wanted to give them a little tender loving care, especially during the holiday season,” Choi said. “Just seeing how excited the dogs were today was awesome.”