ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — An Elmira Marine is back home after being away for training in New Jersey. On Saturday, he was welcomed back home and reunited with his dog, Rome.
“Honestly, I don’t have anyone to come home to really, but having Rome there is nothing but excitement,” said Ricky Holden, a Marine. “I’m super excited to see him again.”
Rome is a 1-year-old pitbull who Holden rescued back in September of 2020. Holden told NEWS10’s sister station in Elmira that he was only gone for a few weeks. Still, some marines are gone for longer periods. “Depends on where you go,” said Holden. “It can be between months, weeks, and even years.”
While he was getting ready for training, Holden was worried about Rome and who would take care of him.
“The biggest concern is just, how is he going to be treated,” said Holden. “Is he going to be treated on the same expectation, like when he’s with me?”
Holden is currently based in New Jersey and drove to Elmira so Rome could be fostered by the Kramer Foundation, a non-profit organization based out of Chemung County.
“We’re actually a rehab and foster care for dogs,” said Juli Lathrop, founder and president of the Kramer Foundation. “What got me into the soldier and veteran part of it, actually was after 9/11. I found out soldiers were being deployed rapidly and having no place to put their dogs. They were having to be relinquished to shelters and rescues. So they were going over there and fighting for us, and they were losing, sometimes, their only family members. There are soldiers, especially young soldiers that, their dogs are their only family.”
The Kramer Foundation has served over a thousand dogs from 29 different states and three countries since they started. Holden said that every time he has to leave, he will come to New York and touch base with Juli.
“Honestly at this point, this is the only place I feel comfortable leaving him when I do go away,” Holden said. “I adopted him, but I’ll definitely say, he’s the one that rescued me,” Holden said.