By Lori Kalef, Program Manager
During coordination of an Iraqi rescue mission, it is often the case that I speak with more people in Iraq than in my own country! As Program Manager for Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide, I am in contact with many incredible individuals around the world all striving for the same goal: to bring home the cherished dogs and cats befriended by American deployed overseas to their awaiting families in the United States. But it doesn’t come without its challenges!
Our missions out of Iraq get more difficult with each passing month. We continuously have to revise our logistical planning due to so many restrictions on movement within the country, our well trusted transporter moving out of Iraq and the reduced use of the northern location where we formerly staged dogs and cats in preparation for transport. Since safety for the animals and our team members is our top priority, the recent bombings at the U.S. Embassy in Erbil have prohibited us from sending rescue experts into the country.
Now that we can no longer use the Erbil route, we are finding innovative ways to get a group of 18 beloved pups belonging to American troops and contractors directly out of Baghdad. Although it may sound simple, transporting the dogs a few miles to the airport is a daunting task in itself. One cannot simply move around freely in Baghdad; something we take for granted on a daily basis here in North America. There is a shop that could order airline cages, but it’s almost impossible to get to that shop. There is government paperwork to be issued, but you can’t get to the government offices. The challenges are endless, and even the smallest obstacle can seem entirely insurmountable in this difficult environment.
The odds are stacked against the 18 Americans and the animals they love, but SPCAI is committed to finding a way. Slowly, but surely we are jumping hurdles, changing routes and making new contacts that we hope will ultimately result in freedom and safety for 18 animals beloved by our troops. Stay tuned for more news about the challenges ahead and how you can help.