Posted: Oct 5, 2013 5:16 PM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News
EAST HELENA - An accident in East Helena on Tuesday took the life of a retired military service dog named Natz who served in two overseas wars as well as special protection missions.
Now his owner, Rachel Weidner, wants a proper burial - and a lower speed limit. Natz was a 7-year old German shepherd, and a veteran of several deployments and 10 Secret Service missions.
He had just retired from military service in May 2013 after serving five years as an explosive detection dog.
"He helped protect the president and vice president over his different accomplishments," said Weidner.
Just like many other military veterans, Natz suffered from PTSD, due to noise of gunfire. That's when Rachel, a 12-year U.S. Air Force veteran herself, became his new owner.
But their relationship was was cut short early Tuesday morning after Natz was struck by a vehicle just yards away from their home.
"Between 6:30 and 7:00, somebody stuck him with the vehicle and left him on the road to die," cried Rachel.
The man who hit Natz has since come forward claiming the dog ran out in front of him and couldn't be avoided due to oncoming traffic.
Rachel's love for Natz not only has her mourning the loss of a loving pet, but a military veteran. She believes he should receive a proper military burial at Fort Harrison.
But according to national cemetery laws, only people can be buried here.
"I can understand why she would want the dog to be buried out here, I respect that. (But) we can't allow it, the dog isn't eligible," said Montana Veterans Affairs administrator Joe Foster.
In honor of Natz, Rachel plans to petition for a special site for him and other military dogs.
"I am planning on putting a marker up where he was struck and killed so that anybody that drives by knows what was taken," said Rachel tearfully.