By Lori Kalef, Program Manager
Our Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program has really gone worldwide this year! In the past few weeks, we were able to rescue 7 dogs and cats befriended by our service men and women stationed overseas in Eastern Europe and Iraq.
With welcomed help from our partners in Romania, who drove hundreds of miles to the U.S. military base outside Bucharest and another in Kosovo, 4 dogs and 2 cats were reunited in the U.S. with the Soldiers who befriended them. Their anxious military families welcomed them home in the United States with open arms. These 6 rescues were complicated and like all other OBP: Worldwide missions, the list of logistics could fill up this entire page. Nonetheless, each animal made it home safely and some of our team members got to meet their arrivals at various locations along the way.
You can watch the news coverage of three of these reunions in Portland, Oregon.
Those 6 Eastern European rescues were a breeze compared to the many challenges that keep piling up for our missions out of Iraq. Multiple setbacks have delayed a mission to bring back 3 dogs belonging to Soldiers who are patiently awaiting their arrivals.
You see, there are no rules in Iraq, even well-known airlines cannot guarantee a booking, and export and security regulations can change on an hourly basis. After many days of work to bring the dogs to safety to our kennel, obtain their paperwork, and triple confirm our flights - our local volunteer arrived at the airport and the airline decided to change the aircraft size without notice, and the 3 dogs and volunteer were turned away. Hours later we were on the phone with every airline that departed from Iraq and all but one had changed their animal transporting rules days before. We booked a second flight with another airline, but they too came back with new regulations just days later. We were finally able to secure a second volunteer and booked two flights and separated the dogs. Alas - 24 hours before departure, the airline went on strike!
One of our volunteers was able to depart several days later, but not without further complications. Once they reached their layover destination, the airline cancelled the second flight to the U.S. and left them stranded in Germany! With only hours to spare, an airline stepped up and even donated a cage to our cause and beautiful Mitsy made her way into the loving arms of her military saviour in the U.S.
Foxy and Emma remain in Iraq, and last week we received more bad news that all commercial flights are canceled due to an insurgence of ISIS from Syria. But as we know, things in Iraq can change at the drop of a hat and we’ll get back on track with these rescues who are now set to leave again this coming Saturday, all paws crossed!
Our program is expanding at record speed and new applications from Soldiers arrive in my inbox more frequently than ever. The bonds formed between Soldier and dog or cat is profound and each story warms our hearts and motivates each rescue with compassion and urgency. Like the story of little Brew who has been living in a trashbin in Kosovo who was shot and run over by a car. Sgt David only dreamed he could bring her to the U.S. and give her a good life, now that is becoming a reality because of your compassion and support.
The OBP: Worldwide team will stop at nothing to bring back the beloved four-legged buddies who have gotten our heroic men and women through some of the roughest deployments, because they too stop at nothing to keep us safe. Stay tuned to our Facebook page in the next following days for more news!