FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio -- A local soldier preparing for deployment is looking for a good home for his dog.
Sgt. Wilkin Santana is a U.S. Army combat engineer. His job is to keep other soldiers safe by disarming explosives. During his eleven years in the Army, Santana has been to Afghanistan twice and has been stationed at Ft. Riley, Ft. Drum and more recently at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina.
He says when he returns from a deployment there is nothing better than coming home to his children and his dog, Zoey.
"I admit I was spending way too much time with her (Zoey) but it's just like something, you know, the dog doesn't talk back to you; she just loves you. She doesn't complain. She doesn't ask you questions. I know some people when you get back from deployment ask questions and you don't want to be rude, but there are things you just don't want to talk about, you know," said Santana.
Santana adopted Zoey after she was abandoned near Ft. Riley. She was just a puppy five years ago when he saw her story on the local shelter's Facebook page.
"I just, it broke my heart so I adopted her and ever since she's been with me. And, it’s been amazing, I'll tell you," he said.
But as he prepares for a third deployment to Afghanistan within the next month, Santana says he has no place to leave Zoey and believes she needs a home where she not only has a lot of space but someone to care for her who enjoys being active.
The decision has been very difficult for him.
"I mean, it’s super sad. I'm not going to lie. I cry sometimes because she's family right now, you know? People who have pets will understand. People who don't might say, 'Oh, it’s just a dog.' It's not just a dog; she's part of my family."
Rather than take her to a shelter, Santana would like to personally make sure Zoey goes to a good family.
"So the reason for me trying to find a home, probably a permanent home, is because I want her to have a lot of space. I mean, she deserves to be happy, you know, and I'm going to be gone for nine months and most likely I'm going to deploy again. The Army has moved me twice in the last year already," said Santana.
And while he wants the dog to find a good, new permanent home, Santana also hopes whoever cares for her wouldn't mind staying in touch with him as well.
"That would be amazing if I can find somebody who, besides getting a new pet, a new family member, also has a new friend in me."