Omar Brooks left his home in Canonsburg to enlist in the Army at the age of 18. He was part of the first wave of ground forces to invade Iraq from Kuwait, and Brooks was the first from his platoon to drive across the border. He lost some friends during that time and he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the service in 2003.

He struggled for 15 years to fill the hole in his heart left by his military service. Fortunately, he found his way to Bridge to Home Animal Rescue in Eighty Four, Washington County and worked with them fostering dogs and finding them homes.

“Without sounding like a softie, there is something to be said about puppy kisses and seeing unconditional love in a time where people need to see more unconditional love,” he said.

Brooks, along with his wife, Nicole Malesic, and daughters Zaida, 5, and Waverly, 2, have fostered 16 dogs over the past two years. They encourage others to adopt by doing cute and funny videos and photoshoots of the animals, especially now during the coronavirus pandemic.

“People are looking to enrich their homes,” he said. “People are getting dogs or cats or different companions for their homes because we are dealing with a time that’s unprecedented.”

“If you have space in your home and space in your heart, please consider fostering… especially during a time like right now when we’re in a crisis. We can be safe and love each other and help each other. It’s one of the best things you can do,” he added.

You might want to read:
– The K9 tradition: When our canine companions help us during wartime
– These dogs run into danger and find hidden bombs to help soldiers in the field of battle
– Responsible pet ownership starts with pet identification and better laws