Soldiers in Iraq have been befriending puppies during their deployments and an agency has sprung up to help "repatriate" the critters here at home. Baghdad Pups has helped soldiers cut through some red tape to help them get their animal friends sent home when they are.
Not for a Minneapolis woman, according to a release from the SPCA, however.
Sgt. Gwen Beberg has been in Iraq 15 months longer than her original commitment, it said, where she befriended a dog named Ratchet.
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East befriend animals in the war zone to help themselves cope with the hardship and terror they face every day. These dogs and cats become their lifeline - saving them from deep depression and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The dog was heading for Baghdad airport last week to be delivered to Sgt. Beberg's parents in Minneapolis when military officers confiscated the dog. It's illegal for military personnel to befriend pets, apparently.
"This year has been extremely difficult on my daughter and her family. It has been a year of disappointments, loneliness, and fear because of all the sacrifices the army has required of Gwen. Ratchet was the savior of her sanity. Now they have cruelly ripped Ratchet away from her and sentenced him to death. I don't know how my daughter will cope. Ratchet has been her lifeline," explains Sgt. Beberg's mother, Patricia Beberg, told the SPCA.
The group has urged a phone-calling campaign to Minnesota politicians in Congress. Given the worldwide attention from this article, Ratchet will probably be fine.
I live in Western Minnesota. I have have been an animal lover , practically all of my life. I battle Bipolar Depression. A dog seems to know when a person becomes very sensitive, sitting in my lap. We acquired a small rat terrior, after our youngest son left 4 years for Iraqu. We are afraid, our youngest son, may be going to Afghanistan within the nesxt year.
Boy, there is a great message to send the world. The US Army hates puppies.
The army needs to establish an official policy concerning the urge to keep animals, other than banning it.
The major reason why the army disapproves of soldiers fraternizing with dogs is that dogs in many countries are not vaccinated against rabies or other infectious diseases at all (especially in war zones), and present risks to everybody in contact with them. Thousands of people die annually from rabies in other countries.
In the USA, the rate has effectively been 0-5 per year, thanks to our policy of vaccinating domestic animals for rabies (one case of rabies was gotten from a rabid racehorse).
There also is the issue of the already-trained military dogs there and how this will affect their ability to carry out their duties if distracted by untrained dogs that may be in heat.
I have a hearing dog who has become highly valuable security for me. I can completely understand how a stray dog, with its keen hearing, can provide protection and comfort to soldiers when they must sleep.
But I'd want to see all dogs checked out by a vet and vaccinated before becoming an official "mascot" of any barracks for the safety of all.
The Army policy of officially banning all fraternizing with dogs aboard actually puts soldiers at further risk than accepting and doing something about it.
It's heartening to see there's some system to get animals out despite the military. It's hard enough to be in a situation where you have no control over your life and are forced to obey every command. For mental health reasons the military should accomodate animal bonds.
Which helps combat stress more, a barking dog or a barking officer? Animals give you a sense you're human and not some robot. But then the military would have to cope with humans, not automatons, and it doesn't know how to do that.
I must see 20 or 30 support our troops ribbons on cars and trucks, etc. on a daily basis. Allowing Ratchet to "go home" with his adoptive "mom" would be a much less expensive way to support this person, than taking even more away from her. I'm headed for the phone... I hope those of you with ribbons on your vehicles are too...
Bob, thank you very much for posting it. We're really hoping that all this attention gets Ratchet out, but it's still up in the air right now.
His last chance for rescue by Baghdad Pups is early next week, and the military needs to officially release him first. I'm hopeful, but it could obviously take too long to get him out.
Meanwhile, if any readers are interested, I've written an update on Ratchet's situation and listed some specific things that people can do to help him.
Thanks again for helping get attention for Ratchet's plight, and I hope that word will keep spreading.