They’ll live on in our hearts and memories

With tremendous sadness and a heavy heart, we must share that seven puppies in the Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program recently contracted Parvovirus and passed away.  

Bucky, Kobane, Dexter, Sully, Barrett, Scout and Bandit will be missed tremendously. Each of these pups will forever be in our hearts and memories.

In developing countries, diseases like Distemper and Parvovirus are rampant. Here in North America, dogs are typically vaccinated as soon as they are old enough and pet parents often take precautions of keeping young pups away from public areas that could harbor these diseases. Unfortunately, conditions in the Middle East don’t lend themselves to these kinds of precautions.

Typically, SPCA International only accepts puppies to our Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide program that are old enough to be vaccinated, but we accepted several young pups into our care as soldiers quickly evacuated Syria. Many soldiers had been given just several hours’ notice and had no other options for their pets. In that time of urgency, we had a difficult decision: stick to our protocols and deny these puppies or accept them knowing the risk was still better than their chances if they were left behind.

You’ll likely remember Sergeant Virginia and her sweet pup Bucky. Orders had come down from base commanders to kill all dogs on base, so we quickly brought Bucky into our care. Another dog, named Kobani, was picked up from a soldier evacuating on short notice. We’re not sure where these pups contracted Parvovirus, but our team did everything they could to save them. 

All of these pups fought bravely, but there is no cure for Parvovirus[1]. They were quarantined and treated by the best local vet in Iraq. Our team provided intravenous fluids and antibiotics to support these pups’ immune systems, but in the end, their tiny bodies could no longer fight the disease. We take comfort in knowing they had the best treatment possible and were surrounded by kindness until the very end.

Everyone knew there was a health risk when we brought these young pups into our care, but it was a risk we had to take. Here at SPCA International, our hearts are heavy with grief for these dogs and the soldiers who loved them.

Even in her grief, one soldier reached out on behalf of her fellow soldiers to share this kind message in the wake of Dexter’s passing:  

“Thank you for doing everything you could. We all really appreciate it more than you know. I am so heartbroken right now but so thankful that you all loved him and made his last few days as easy as possible and filled with love. We are so grateful for the work you do and none of it goes unnoticed. We would like to stay in touch with you and help out with donations or whatever is needed to save other animals.” -U.S. Army Specialist Abigail Winters

Bucky, Kobane, Dexter, Sully, Barrett, Scout and Bandit will continue to inspire us to do our very best to prevent suffering and give more animals a chance to live a good life in this often cruel, senseless and challenging world. We are actively reviewing protocols to protect animals from this terrible disease in the future.

[1] No specific drug is available that will kill the virus in infected dogs, and treatment is intended to support the dog’s body systems until the dog’s immune system can fight off the viral infection…When a dog develops parvo it may die despite aggressive treatment. Learn more from the American Veterinary Medical Association.