By: Lori Kalef, Program Manager
We did it! Even as these words are typed out, we still can't believe we were able to get 20 dogs and 1 cat out of Baghdad and home to their beloved Americans who have been serving in Iraq.
If you've been following our social media and blog posts, you are quite aware of the challenges that we have faced over the last several months finding a way to not only get these dogs and cat on a plane home with our fabulous flight volunteers, but to keep them safe in Baghdad while they awaited transport to the U.S.
With each new day, both our teams on the ground and in North America worked tirelessly day and night as we faced new hurdles and setbacks. There were times when the dogs had to be relocated because external forces threatened their lives and well-being, and there were times when the climate made things chaotic as well. Temperatures in Baghdad can reach well over 120°F, this means that a rotating crew of caring individuals had to go check on the dogs every few hours to make sure that they were cool enough, and that their water didn't evaporate entirely. A makeshift pen was created with a handmade roof to act as a shield from the hot Iraqi sun.
And if that was challenging enough, the Iraqi authorities got word of what we were doing and began limiting the amount of animals that could depart from Baghdad International Airport. But there was no giving up, and we banded together across continents and oceans to find new and creative ways to complete each mission.
Week by week, our wonderful and big hearted flight volunteers sacrificed the little time they had off while serving in Baghdad, to escort the animals to Jordan where our partners were waiting for them with open arms. Once in Jordan they were fed, loved up, vetted and sent on their way to the United States to be once again welcomed by another team. After overnight break and subsequent health exams, they were on their final route home to their eager military and contractor families.
While it took over two dozen once strangers, now friends, holding hands from one side of the world to the other, none of these rescues would have been possible without our extraordinary, wonderful supporters who donated to make these rescues possible. And for this, we say thank you with all our hearts!