By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director
Here at SPCA International, our Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program is constantly helping soldiers stationed around the globe rescue their pets when their overseas tours of duty end. This work can be extremely complicated, but our talented staff members always find a way to help soldiers and their battle buddies.
Although this work never grows old, it does become second nature to see successful missions carried out on a regular basis. This familiarity can mean that we start to take for granted just how difficult and unique each story is. Working with a well-oiled machine, you forget about the individual parts that come together to create the end result.
Recently, we asked some of the soldiers who have been helped by our program to share their experience in a short video. Their videos reminded me just how life-changing the Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program is and how vital our work is not just for the animals it saves, but the humans we serve as well.
When soldiers contact us, they are typically doubtful about the possibility of rescuing their animal. Most have already researched many options and come up without any viable way of getting their dog or cat back to the U.S. on their own.
The roadblocks are numerous; the military prohibits adopted pets on military planes, private pet transportation companies don’t serve the countries where many soldiers are stationed on active duty. These soldiers hit dead end after dead end until they find our program.
As I reflect on the Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program, I feel honored to give back to U.S. service members who sacrifice so much for our safety, proud of our program staff at SPCA International, and immensely grateful to each and every person who supports this important program. By sharing these experiences, we hope to give people more insight into our program by hearing from the soldiers directly.
Right now, due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, our Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program is grounded. We can’t transport pets because so many airports and borders are closed. So, dogs and cats in the program are being cared for at facilities and in foster homes in Iraq, the Philippines, Poland, Kenya, Jordan and Somalia. We are hearing rumors of airports and international travel opening soon. The moment it becomes possible, we’ll reunite these pets with their soldiers and celebrate their homecoming.
I hope these videos warm your heart as much as they warmed mine.