Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Companionship For Our Troops In Iraq

While on tour, many of our troops overseas have nothing that reminds them of home. There is a void they feel but sometimes they can be pleasantly surprised when a lost kitten or abandoned pup comes along and helps fill that void. The bond that is formed between a soldier and an animal they've rescued can be a strong one. Operation Baghdad Pups, an SPCA International initiative, helps Americans serving in Iraq bring home the animals they've befriended on duty. Since April 2008, the SPCA International in Washington D.C. has been busy setting up travel arrangements for 8 cats and nearly 70 dogs.

The first cat to make the 7,000 mile, 13 hour trip to her new home in the states was, "Hope", a small calico kitten. "Hope" was injured jumping out of a truck's engine compartment where she had been hiding scared and fragile. Bruce, an American contractor working in Northern Iraq, took her in and with the help of a medic nursed her back to health. The day came when Bruce was coming home to the states and he couldn't bear the thought of leaving "Hope" behind. After multiple frustrating steps including finding vaccines, completing travel paperwork with local authorities, working out flight arrangements and much more, Operation Baghdad Pups and the SPCA were able to reunite "Hope" with her new family in Northern Virginia. Terri Crisp, program manager of Operation Baghdad Pups says, "the value that is placed on these animals by the soldier and his/her family is remarkable and beyond description."

Read more about Bruce's story and many others in this article of Cat Watch.

How You Can Help Make A Difference

Baghdad Pups is run entirely on Private Donations. You can make a donation to Baghdad Pups or find a "wish list" of items on their website at www.baghdadpups.com. Items such as litter boxes, plastic food and water bowls, airline approved crates, as well as medicines for fleas and heartworm are much needed ammenities.

Future Changes and Growth For Our Furry Friends

Looking to make positive changes in attitudes toward the welfare and treatment of dogs and cats in Iraq and Afghanistan, The SPCA International is working to put in place mobile spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations. Currently there are no programs and animals are viewed as dirty animals carrying rabies and other diseases. With these programs in place, inroads will be made possible when kittens and puppies are safe to handle and touch.

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