A dog and cat’s life is a short one in Iraq. If they manage to escape the horrible abuse, they are likely to starve to death or die painfully due to illness or heat exhaustion. These animals are rarely shown any mercy for they are seen as worthless rodents, a nuisance to society.
There are very few individuals who would consider a dog or a cat a part of the home like we do in North America, so when US military and security personnel are deployed in Iraq, many of the animals attach themselves to those show them any form of kindness.
On our most recent Operation Baghdad Pups mission we were able to help 17 more lives escape their otherwise horrid fate. When we looked at the photos of the dogs and cats and read the letters from the brave Americans serving in Iraq who befriended these beautiful creatures, we knew we had to help get them home and we also knew it wouldn’t be easy!
Since flying into Baghdad where most of the animals were living is no longer an option, we needed many people holding hands across the country to facilitate their transport to safety in Erbil. Security workforces were kind enough to meet our hired driver with the animals, but meeting at a checkpoint outside the ‘red zone’ in Baghdad is certainly not like meeting at any regular street corner.
In Baghdad, the rules can change from one minute to the next, depending on which Iraqi guard is on duty. After close to three hours of bargaining before the sun even came up that day, the guard would still not let them pass the short distance to the van. However, in Iraq, it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know and luckily one of the security officials knew someone in a higher rank who was able to clear their departure, but not before they had to walk through the Red Zone with the frightened dogs and cat!
Once our team arrived in Erbil, the work of getting the animals ready for transport to the United States began. Every other day for 2 weeks, one rescue expert at a time, our group flew into Washington Dulles Airport with a crew of Baghdad Pups and cats. Meeting their arrivals brought tears to our eyes with each new wagging tail discovering US soil, some were even lucky enough to be reunited with their families right off the plane. This beautiful dog named George who spent many months with his human companion in Iraq, was so elated to see his dad, he launched himself right into his lap for a hug and wouldn’t let go!
Although Fred wasn’t able to meet his Houston family at the airport when he arrived, he clearly melted our hearts. With a wounded paw from a BB pellet shot at him in Iraq, the reality of life for an animal in the Middle East, he was immediately brought to the vet and taken into our care so we could keep a close eye on him. It was easy to see why Fred won the heart of his adopter while overseas. Here he is making friends with everyone at the hotel lobby!
Before Lani came to her forever home in the U.S., she lived a life of constantly having to fend for herself. Luckily, she was befriended by a wonderful ex-Marine working in Iraq who quickly fell in love with her sweet nature. Lani is sure enjoying her new life at home!
Separated from his mom at a very early age, little Taboga attached himself to everyone who would meet him and the feeling was mutual! During his transition to his home in the U.S., he learned two very important things, how to play and how to sleep!
Seeing the dogs excitedly walk on grass for the very first time was one of the best reflections of how your support enabled us to make this one of our most successful OBP missions to date!
We couldn’t have brought back 17 animals to their US families without your help.
Thank you for being part of the SPCAI team!