NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Most Peace Corps Volunteers evacuated because of COVID-19 had to leave their pets behind.
Middle Tennessee resident Katie Hyde was serving in Uganda for the last 10 months before the evacuation.
"I got to work on something I am so passionate about which is gender-based violence," Hyde said.
Midway through March, Hyde's plans changed. COVID-19 forced the Peace Corps to make an unprecedented move and evacuate all volunteers stationed around the globe. Hyde knew it would be hard to evacuate with her dog.
"We were scared... [we knew] it is going to be so much harder to get animals home because it is so sudden and it is all up in the air," Hyde said.
With the time Hyde had, she packed up her belongings and was able to get her dog, Fitz, to a travel vet.
"We just had to put trust in them," she said.
Hyde was in Uganda for another week before she flew back to the United States.
"On the way home it was about a 30-hour trip. In the middle of an evacuation you don't have the freedom of choosing the best flights," she said.
Hyde arrived back in Tennessee on March 20, unsure if her dog would make the same trip. But on March 30, the 10-month-old dog got off a cargo plane in Washington D.C. where Hyde's friends greeted him.
She said Returned Peace Corps volunteers helped bring Fitz to Tennessee.
"It was the happiest moment of my life by far," she said.
Fitz is adjusting to life in North America.
"He's been barking at the deer and chasing the squirrels and seeing all the things that he didn't in Uganda," she said.
Hyde believes Peace Corps Volunteers and their pets have an unbreakable bond.
"They are not just our pets. They are our support. They are everything to us," she said.
Several Peace Corps Volunteers are still working to get their pets back and have set up GoFundMe accounts.