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Animal rescue group hopes to bring Iraqi puppy to U.S.

October 16, 2008 |  8:04 am

From the Associated Press:

Ratchet the puppyBAGHDAD — The Iraqi puppy adopted by an American soldier but was refused a flight to the U.S., is alive, the military said Tuesday, giving hope to an animal rescue group that is trying to take it to the United States.

The case has cast a spotlight on Defense Department rules that prohibit soldiers in the U.S. Central Command, which includes Iraq, from adopting pets or transporting them home.

Army Sgt. Gwen Beberg, 28, of Minneapolis, left, tried to send Ratchet home with the help of Operation Baghdad Pups earlier this month as she prepared to leave Iraq. But the dog, also at left, was reportedly confiscated by a U.S. officer before it could reach the Baghdad International Airport, raising concern about the animal's fate.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Cmdr. David Russell said in an e-mail that the dog was alive, but he could provide no other details. More than 30,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Army to let the puppy go home with Beberg.

Beberg has been transferred to a staging area to prepare for her departure from Iraq.

Terri Crisp, the coordinator for Operation Baghdad Pups — a rescue program run by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International — planned to travel to Baghdad today to collect six dogs rescued by U.S. troops. Crisp is hopeful Ratchet will be one of them, but she has a substitute dog ready to go in his place if necessary.

"There's a lot of pressure being put on the military right now to allow Ratchet to leave," she said in a telephone interview.

Baghdad Pups has taken more than 50 dogs and cats home for their warrior owners, although the group had to cease its activities over the summer because of the heat.

Last week, Beberg's congressman, Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, asked the Army to review the case.

Photo: Associated Press

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