‘He saved my life a few times,’ Brimfield man fights to get TEDD canine back

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Ralph White is a former Army Infantry Sgt. fighting to adopt his Tactical Explosive Detection Dog. He said the military told him he would be first in line to adopt when the dog was up for adoption.

BRIMFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — A veteran is fighting to adopt his Tactical Explosive Detection Dog after being told a decade ago he would be first in line.

Ralph White is a former Army Infantry Sgt. who served with the 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed to Afghanistan for nine months in 2012 in the TEDD Program.

He said his bestfriend Ikar-1 kept him alive.

“They gave me Ikar-1, and I said ‘there ain’t no way I am passing with this dog,'” White said. “Me and this dog are the complete opposite. I am chill and he is wild.”

Ikar-1 is a bomb-sniffing K-9. White was his first handler, and when it came time to put their trust in each other, an unbreakable bond formed.

“There was a house we were searching, and we went through it so smooth, and we found all three explosive devices, and we just clicked right there,” White said.

They were separated from each other a decade ago.

After completing the TEDD program, Ikar-1 belonged to the military. After years of searching for Ikar-1, White found out his best friend is up for adoption.

However, he has to get in line. Civilians and Ikar’s other handlers can request to adopt him.

Betsy Hampton is the founder of Justice for TEDD Handlers. She said since 2015, she has helped a dozen handlers reunite with the dogs they served with.

“It means the world to these handlers because they went to war with them{…}They would sleep with the dog, take care of the dog, render first aid to the dog, they were their battle buddy,” Hampton said.

Hampton said the first war dog handlers, the ones who first train the dogs to pass the TEDD program, are sometimes left behind in the adoption process.

“In most cases, the last, the most current handler, would have first right. Many of the handlers were told, ‘you are the first handler you will have the first right,’ but it just didn’t work out that way in most cases.”

WMBD reached out to the military base in Fort Bliss, TX overseeing the adoption process, but have not heard back.

White is expected to get an update this week, and WMBD will follow the story as more details become available.

“Just thinking about getting the opportunity to see him and put his arms around him would be cool because he deserves it because he’s been through a lot and has done a lot for America and people,” White said.

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