Canine Rights

So-Called ‘Friend’ Sells Soldier’s Beloved Dog While He Served in Afghanistan

Lt. Brandon Harker and his Lab, Oakley, shortly before he was deployed to Afghanistan. While deployed, the friend Harker had entrusted with Oakley's care sold the dog through Craigslist. Photo: Brandon HarkerAn American soldier is desperately hoping to find his beloved dog, Oakley.

When 1st Lt. Brandon Harker returned from Afghanistan after a 9 month deployment, he was shocked to discover that the so-called “good friend” he had entrusted with his dog’s care had sold the yellow Labrador Retriever on Craigslist.

Harker, a resident of Lakewood, Washington got Oakley in 2011, shortly after joining the military. The pair were inseparable until Harker was deployed overseas and could not take his dog with him. So, as many other soldiers do when deployed, the lieutenant left his beloved dog in the care of a good friend.

“Every time, while I was gone, I asked about him,” Harker said. He explained that his “friend” always said Oakley was “doing good (and) acting like his regular self.” Harker says he always asked for pictures but never got any.

As he was flying back to his base in Washington, Harker learned that his dog wouldn’t be waiting there for him.

Oakley loved to snuggle and is described as "a big baby" by his devastated owner. Oakley is registered and microchipped to Harker. Photo: Brandon Harker.

Now, Harker has created a Facebook page and a Craigslist Ad in desperate hopes of finding his dog and getting him back.

I just recently returned from a 9 month deployment. And upon arrival back into the area I found out my yellow labrador retriever was either given away or sold while I was gone. I was told this happened in May, but it could have happened anytime from February till June. He is good with kids and other dogs. He has a unique coat, on his face he has spots of a darker yellow (champagne) he also has spots of the same color going down his sides and legs. If anyone has any information on this and can help me please do. I am just trying to get him back to me since he was wrongfully given away or sold with out my permission while I was deployed. I will also be able to verify the dog is mine because he is micro-chipped and registered to me. Once again thank you to everyone who sees this and tries to help. If you could spread the word about this issues that would be great as well.

Harker also explained that he’d been to police to file a report, but was told that since he “gave” his dog to someone while he was deployed, they were within their rights to give the dog away and nothing can be done beyond taking the “friend” to small claims court.

Please, visit Harker’s Facebook page by clicking here. Spread this story far and wide to help reconnect an American hero with his beloved dog.




  1. Brenda Hixenbaugh

    Aug 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Well with friends like that this guy doesn’t need any enemies. At the least the so called friend could give information on this Labrador,you know this person knows when they sold the dog and they have to have some information even going through Craig s List.I say give this so called friend the opportunity to give up the information, if this person does not talk, take this so called friend to small claims court.What was done was rotten and selfish. Good Luck, I hope you two get back together,I know h w I would feel if that would happen to my friends,my pets. PS Make sure that their is press coverage if you get as far as Small Claims.People should know what this s called friend is.That’s only fair. Again Good Luck, my prayers are with you and Oakley.

  2. Lisa

    Aug 15, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    So, if this “friend” who was entrusted with this young man’s TRUE friend that he obviously loved and considered family is LEGALLY allowed to “give” him away, does that mean if this so called “friend” was entrusted with this soldier’s child he could also sell him/her?

  3. Nora

    Jul 31, 2013 at 1:35 am

    IF he was paying the “friend” there would be proof of that and also show he didn’t give Oakley to the “friend”. Since it was a “friend” there was probably no written agreement, but that would be a plus too if it went to court. Of course anyone that low would probably lie to a judge too. 🙁 I hope he finds Oakley.

  4. jean martorano

    Jul 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Here is another link for stolen are lost missing dogs a lot of people don’t know about these people have been very successfully in finding missing pets

  5. Lori

    Jul 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Did the friend say exactly what happened to Oakley? This friend could have done anything to the dog. My bet is that the dog may have ran away or the friend took it to a shelter. I doubt the dog was sold when so many are waiting in shelters. If the friend won’t tell Brandon what he/she did with the dog, take him to court, maybe the judge will make him explain what happened.

  6. Jean

    Jul 30, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    My first thought was the dog died and the “friend” doesn’t have the nerve to tell him. I sure hope not. Makes more sense then selling or giving away a friends dog.

  7. Chester

    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Can the “friend” eat solid food yet?

  8. Jen

    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Why doesn’t he go to the vet and have them trace the microchip? isn’t the commercial home again? isn’t it designed to help you find your pet? if he is chipped their shouldn’t be such a ordeal trying to find him. and the guy who did this to his friend is a jerk!

    • Ashley Harrison

      Jul 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      I think you have the wrong idea about pet microchips. It’s not a GPS tracker for your pet. When a vet scans the microchip, all you get is an identity number. Then, you go to the website for that particular brand of chip, and (if the owner registered the chip) you can find the contact info for the owner. But if the new owner doesn’t realize the dog is stolen, they’re not likely to ask someone to check the chip.

  9. Betty Armbruster

    Jul 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    So sorry about the loss of your dog. I hope your find him. I don’t understand how some people can let people down like that…how do they ever live with themselves. Again. I do hope you find your sweet Oakley.

  10. Julie

    Jul 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Please post this scums name so that others will know who he is. It may also jog someone’s memory as to who bought the dog. Thank you for your service, so sorry that the scumbag sold your dog. I sure hope you find him soon.

  11. Kathy

    Jul 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    What about archives of ads posted to Craigslist to at least get a time of when the ad was posted? And definitely plaster the internet with pictures, someone must know something.

  12. slmoran2567

    Jul 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I can’t think of word that adequately describes what this tool did. Give up this guy’s name as it could help find your dog, and warn others not to ask him to “take care” of a pet for them.

  13. Brenda

    Jul 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I would CALL the Microchip company’s database to put Oakley in an “alert” list for stolen pets (prevents anyone from changing owner info).
    Too… think about publishing the “friend’s” name AND picture. Whoever bought, or took possession of Oakley most likely didn’t KNOW the Truth–and is oblivious to what is going on. If they SEE his/her picture–they just might put two & two together… and do the right thing.
    There are MANY ‘rescue groups’ on FB–Great folks who know how to network coast to coast. They can be a wonderful resource for getting the word out. Many motorcycle groups are huge supporters of our Vets… contact the Eagles, Moose, AmVets, VFW’s…flyers at grocery stores, pet stores, vets, groomers, and “pet parks”… leave no stone unturned !! The more the word gets out there… the better the chance to bring Oakley HOME !!

  14. Julie Hammond

    Jul 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I am sure this has already been done but notify
    the micro chip company and advise the situation.
    Then go to area vets give them the micro chip number
    as well. They can check to see any matches to new dogs
    that have come in. Dogs that have been micro chipped
    have been returned years later. Sad story.

  15. amanda

    Jul 29, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    what is the “friends” name?

  16. Karen

    Jul 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I thought I read somewhere that Lt Harker was paying the “friend” to keep Oakley. Wouldn’t that constitute an arrangement other than “he gave the dog away”? What a way to repay a soldier for putting his life on the line for our country! I hope they are reunited soon.

  17. Marsha

    Jul 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Good reason to hang with dogs. So I don’t become one of the evil humans. I’m not saying dogs are perfect, just a change of pace.

  18. Susie

    Jul 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I found the police department FB page. What asses.
    I did a driveby comment, but it sure does not make me feel better for this soldier. He volunteers to put himself in danger to protect our freedoms and the freaking police refuse to do a thing.

  19. Gail

    Jul 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

    CONTACT VET (doggie vet) organizations see if there is a way to notify vets to check for your microchip number of anyone who has come in wtih a Lab within this time period……..

  20. Rita

    Jul 29, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I agree with Pat! If you post the “friend”‘s name, you might have a better chance of getting your dog back! I don’t understand why people can be so cruel!

    • peg

      Jul 29, 2013 at 11:51 am

      I applaud the fact Brandon does not name the friend or sink to calling him/her all the names that came to my mind when I read this story.
      Maybe just a first name would help to trigger the memory of someone who read or responded to the ad even if they were not the ones to get Oakley it might help get a better time frame.

  21. Pat Riehl

    Jul 29, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Maybe you should put the “friend’s” name on here so people that know the “friend” can help track down Oakley. He definitely is NOT a friend. Hope you get Oakley back. He is beautiful.

  22. Anita Ball

    Jul 29, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Why? Why? This is unbelievable & heartbreaking. HOW could a “so called” friend do something like this and doesn’t this friend even know who Oakley was sold to? It was only 9 months for pete’s sake..I just don’t understand some humans!

    • Juliann Valencia

      Jul 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      We all need friends like that. What a fucking jerk. That happened to me when I was moving. I asked someone I knew and thought I could trust to watch my Boxer Sammy and the fucking punk gave her to some drug addict. I never got her back. A good lesson learned. I trust no-one and won’t let anyone take care of my dog unless it is family. I am sorry for this young mans loss. I hope he finds his doggie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

To Top
Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest dog news, recall alerts, and giveaways!

You have Successfully Subscribed!