By Lori Kalef, Program Manager
One of the joys and challenges about our Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program is that the many details it takes to coordinate these missions change on a daily, if not hourly basis. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s a nail biter every time and this mission is no different.
Over the past few weeks, we have been able to bring home ten out more dogs belonging to soldiers and contractors deployed in Baghdad and Erbil, Iraq. Of course, as with every OBP: Worldwide mission, it doesn’t come without its many obstacles and it sure requires lots of resourceful thinking.
After receiving 21 applications for the rescue of animals befriended by our troops, we knew we had our work cut out for us. Early on the option of sending the dogs located in Baghdad to Erbil (our preferred city for departure) was lost because one of our local volunteers moved away and the roads had become very treacherous. So we began researching ways to get the group straight out of Baghdad.
Even though the Baghdad airport is only 5 miles from the base where a majority of the dogs were located, it is almost impossible to navigate that route, and near impossible to step outside the compound without very special clearance. After many attempts and one or two flight changes, we were informed on the 11th hour that security forces could not allow the dogs and our flight volunteer to drive to the airport at the required time and all subsequent bookings needed to be cancelled. This meant four very disappointed families in the U.S. who were not going to welcome home their service members’ beloved pups, not to mention all our volunteers standing by.
But we held our breath and waited on a hope and a prayer. Low and behold, less than 24 hours before the flight took off, we got clearance! Our team worked fast and furiously to reinstate all the details so that these pups would depart Baghdad and arrive safely in the US. Each dog is now in the arms of the loving families of those deployed overseas - Buddy, Sassy, Bogie, Habibti, Nugget, Otis, Ghost, Rose (#1), Rosie (#2), and Meela can all be seen in their individual photos below.
But it’s not over yet! Ten down, eleven to go! We are crossing all our paws for the next mission out of Baghdad with four more to arrive in the States in a few short days! Stay tuned! This is OBP: Worldwide headquarters reporting live from Mission almost Impossible!