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Great Lakes National Cemetery denies solider dog burial

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By Ron Savage
Fox 2 News

WHITE LAKE, Mich. (WJBK) -- The Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly says no dogs allowed, but one local military mom says that dog deserved to be buried there.

After U.S. Army Sergeant Corey McCourt graduated from Livonia Franklin High School, he became an explosives expert assigned to an army mine detection team -- a real life hurt locker.

He's done tours in Afghanistan and is still serving in the war on terror.

He worked alongside a military legend, Mina, a male black lab who did nine tours of duty in Afghanistan, three tours with Sergeant McCourt.

"The dog sits in front of the bomb and my son, who does this, he goes in and he disarms the bomb after the dog finds it," says June Etlinger.

Mina was also promoted to sergeant and then later retired with an honorable discharge from the army.

But at the age of 13, Mina developed a serious lung ailment and sadly had to be put down.  Sergeant McCourt is still fighting, but no longer with Mina.

"He just wanted him to have a good life the last couple of years of his life, and he let him do whatever he wanted to do because he earned it," Etlinger says.

So with her son serving, mom volunteered to arrange for Mina's final resting place.  She choose the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.  The cemetery serves as the resting place for our nation's military.

"My father is buried there and my grandmother and my grandfather are buried there.  It's a beautiful cemetery and it's an honorable cemetery, and I just feel that Mina deserves that as well," says Etlinger.

But when the family inquired about a burial for Mina, the Great Lakes cemetery administration told them a canine burial is not possible.  It's not allowed.

"I don't think he's ever been asked that question before, so he was kind of like no, we don't do that here," says Etlinger.

This family believes Mina should be treated just like a solider.

"I have the phone number to Washington.  That was going to be my next step was to call Washington, contact somebody in Washington, because like I said, he may be a dog, but he's a solider anmd he deserves it," Etlinger remarks.

I left a message with the Pentagon for clarification.  We are expecting a return call soon.

For now, Mina's remains are secured at an animal hospital in Michigan to give the family some time to find a solution.

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