To Pam Pelton, her German shepherd Max was more than a pet; he was a war hero. When Max passed away on Memorial Day in 2012, Pelton wanted to make sure he received a burial fitting of a soldier. It turned out this was much harder than Pelton could have ever realized.
Max served with the Air Force for four years as a bomb-sniffing dog. He was discharged from his military duties when he failed a recertification test. According to the official documents, Max had become “too nice” to continue to serve in his current position. Pelton adopted Max, and the two spent the next five years together. Max even saved Pelton’s life when they came across two feral dogs while walking in the woods. In 2012, Max was diagnosed with a terminal illness and passed away.
Pelton spent years fighting to have Max buried with the honors he deserved. After her repeated requests to have Max buried in a military cemetery were denied, Pelton eventually got in contact with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The MSPCA operates Hillside Acres Pet Cemetery, which has a special section dedicated to military and police K-9 dogs that were killed while on active duty or post-service.
Max was finally laid to rest among his fellow service dogs with full honors, including “Taps” and a salute by officers. Pelton still misses her beloved Max, but she now has a new canine companion thanks to the MSPCA. It just so happens that Pelton’s new dog also happens to be named Max.