Family and support group reunite a soldier and her dogs


Rudy, Rigger and Camper arrived at Fort Bragg last week with yellow ribbons around their necks and their tails wagging for their owner, 1st Lieutenant Kelly Kyburz, whom they had not seen since last August.

The three cute and friendly mix-breeds were well, happy and had been given loving attention here in Baltimore during their owners' tour of duty in the Persian gulf.

Kyburz was sent home because she is pregnant. With the 327th Signal battalion, 18th airborne corps, she was a multi-channel platoon leader in Saudi Arabia and "responsible for radio vans all over the area some within 50 miles of Kuwait," she says.

Her husband Lieutenant Jeff Kyburz is still there.

Kelly graduated from Loyola College and was in its R.O.T.C. program, he graduated from West Point.

Last summer, while stationed at Fort Bragg, the two were put on alert and had to make some living arrangements for their three dogs and two cats.

"I shipped the cats to my friend in Illinois. But, she was put on alert so a friend of hers has them and says she hates to send them back she loves them so much," says Kelly.

The dogs went to Jeff's parents in Norfolk, but were too much for them to handle so were put in a boarding kennel there.

Kelly's parents Marcella and John Cain from Parkville, already had several pets which their three children had acquired over the years but the boarding kennel in Norfolk was expensive so John Cain sought another means of caring for the three dogs.

He contacted the American Legion support group for families of individuals who are in Operation Desert Storm. He was contacted by John Collins, who is a member of this group and assigned to find temporary care for service members' pets.

Bob Ford, department adjutant at the American Legion Headquarters says the support hotline number from any location is 1-800-786-0901. "Each caller is asked for an area code and in this area the call is generally sent to me," he says.

Collins is from Catonsville and teaches physical education at the Community College of Catonsville. He and his wife Bettey own the Collinswood Kennels where they breed and train German shepherd dogs and rottweilers which they import from Germany.

Collins located Virginia Estep, manager of the Animal Welfare Society on Davis Road in Columbia, (465-4350), who agreed to keep the three dogs.

So, last October John Cain traveled to Norfolk and brought them to Estep where they stayed until last week.

Estep says that "at the Society, since 1944 when we opened, we have cared for pets whose owners need help, such as the elderly, those hospitalized or for other reasons. Now we are helping service members. The stay is free but donations are always welcome because we are totally dependent on them," she adds.

Collins would like to have many pet lovers who will offer temporary pet care for service members. His number is 788-6149.

Kyburz says her pregnancy was the surprise of her life. "That's because I have a female problem and was told I'd never become pregnant. At this moment, I'm a mixture of tickled pink, embarrassed and sorry I cannot fulfill what I was trained to do. However, my Commandant here is full of congratulations about it because he knows this was not intentional," she explains.

"Jeff and I has some time together in November in the Persian gulf and planned another reunion at Christmas. We often got together with my sister Kathy and her husband Bobby who are also there. We were in different locations but not more than an hour apart and I could set my own hours to get out and do what I had to do. So with my radio van, when any of the others had time off I could often go to them," she says.

On Christmas day in Saudi Arabia the Kyburzes went to Kelly's doctor for results of a test he had done because she had not been feeling well. "Our mouths dropped open when we were told I was pregnant. We couldn't believe it," she says.

The Cains have three children, Kelly, 24; Kathy, 27 and son Chris, 21 who is a student at UMBC. John Cain with son Chris has already driven to Fort Bragg earlier in the month to build a sturdy fence around his daughters yard so that keeping the dogs would be easier.

Kelly Kyburz says her dogs are wonderful company for her and she and her family will always be indebted to the Animal Welfare Society in Columbia and to John Collins.

She's quit watching war news, she says.. "I've been there and at first I wanted to hear everything. Now I worry and it keeps me awake at night so I've quit. I just pray to Saint Jude that all will be well."

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