PRAIRIEVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A Syrian man in a life or death situation risked everything to save his dog. It meant leaving his family and friends and moving across the globe to start a new life. A rescue shelter in Prairieville, Louisiana paved their path to freedom.
Fady Eid and his dog Jack enjoy playing fetch. They are at peace in Prairieville but they went through hell to get there. It is nothing short of a miracle. The two are lucky to be alive. Two months ago they were living in Syria. Their lives were very different.
Eid, who has assumed the American name "Alex", is an award winning journalist in Syria. He said his interest in broadcast came from American icon Oprah Winfrey.
"I was learning from her what to say to people. How to give people hope," Alex said.
Alex said he tried to copy Oprah's style but it did not translate well in his native country. Alex said not long after the crisis started in Syria, he was under attack. Terrorists accused him of promoting western culture. Alex said the criticism quickly turned into threats.
"I have a message on my phone from them saying, soon the TV and radio you are on will declare you as a dead person," Alex said.
Alex was too passionate to give up. But that changed one day when, he said, he found a bullet in his apartment.
"They were not joking. I said that's it. We are both in danger," Alex said.
Alex said he applied for an American Visa and turned to the Internet to find someone to adopt his dog, Jack. Just when he thought his luck was about to run out, he came across a Facebook page for America's Dog Pit Bull Rescue in Prairieville.
"We help rehabilitate and re-home dogs in shelters or abuse situations," Trevor Reeves said.
Trevor is the man behind the operation. He would be the answer to Alex's prayer.
"We get thousands of emails and messages every day from people all over the country and all over the world asking for help in various different ways," Trevor said.
Trevor said Alex requested that he post his Jack's photo on his page, but he soon realized that cry for help was much bigger.
"As we peeled the layers back from his story we started to realize more and more how he was in as much trouble as Jack was," Trevor said.
Trevor had seen photos of what appeared to be explosions not far from Alex's apartment. But he said it was not until a phone conversation one night that he realized the seriousness of Alex's situation.
"You could physically hear the shells go off in the background as you're talking to him," Trevor said.
Trevor offered a home to both Alex and Jack but the path was long and challenging.
"It wasn't an easy task and there wasn't anything safe about them getting out of the country," Trevor said.
Alex documented every step of his journey. The hardest part, he said, was making it through five dangerous security checkpoints alive.
"I was terrified because sometimes the extreme rebels shoot at the checkpoints where there's lots of cars," Alex said.
Alex made it out of Syria to Lebanon. From there, he was able to fly into New York City but jack had to be flown as cargo to Chicago. Alex said when he told jack goodbye he was not sure he would ever see him again.
"I was saying 'it's okay buddy, soon we're going to meet it was like for a few hours and everything will be fine. I promise you.' I think I was talking to myself. I think I was trying to convince myself," Alex said.
Jack was on his way to Chicago. Alex got on a plane headed to New York City, still tracking every leg of his journey. As he made his descent into The Big Apple he said he felt a sense of security but he was still worried about Jack. Trevor, his new friend from Prairieville, was in Chicago waiting anxiously.
"I really didn't know what to expect. What if he didn't make it, or got lost in shipping, or what was going on," Trevor recalled.
Jack cleared customs but he and Trevor still had a long road trip to Louisiana ahead of them. Jack and Trevor bonded over their journey.
Alex had already arrived in Baton Rouge. He knew Jack was safe but he was ready to be reunited with his best friend. It happened just in time for Christmas.
'When he first walked into the room I couldn't believe my eyes. I almost had a heart attack. I just wanted to hold jack, to kiss him, tell him see buddy I was right. We are safe now. We are safe. I felt like, mission accomplished," Alex said.
He knows that mission would not have been possible without Trevor.
"He is, Trevor is my American hero, for me and Jack. He saved us," Alex said.
Their courage and faith were tested more than once, but Trevor said he would do it again.
"That's what makes living this life worthwhile is doing something like that. I can't even tell you what it meant to me to see the look in both of their eyes to see each other again. It's the most amazing thing I had ever seen," Trevor said.
He has done more than just save Alex and Jack. He has given them a home. While Alex's future is still unclear, he said he has the one thing he was trying to relay to so many as a reporter in Syria.
"I believe this is land of hope. Isn't it? I have hope," Alex said.
Catholic Charities has assigned an attorney to Alex to assist him in gaining political asylum.