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by April 26, 2010
NO BUDDY LEFT BEHIND : Helping soldiers keep their pets Rescind General Order-1A provision against animals
From the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, we hear the heartwarming stories of Cinnamon, Lava, Charlie, Boo and Ratchet. They are the dogs of war - pets and mascots of our American soldiers who have rescued and cared for these animals trapped in the chaos of human conflict.
We also hear the tales of heartbreak. The pets and mascots of our soldiers are fugitives - victims a military order that requires the killing of animals harbored by American soldiers in combat zones.
Army Spc. Gwen Beberg rescued a homeless puppy from a burning pile of trash while on active duty in Iraq last May and named the puppy Ratchet. She says she could have not made it through her 13-month deployment without the companionship of Ratchet. But, Ratchet needed to be rescued a second time - this time from the United States military.
General Order 1A prohibits conduct that compromises characters and morale. This also includes a strict prohibition on the keeping of pets, even though soldiers' pets provide immeasurable comfort and would clearly enhance morale, not compromise it.
Because of these regulations the military has a habit of confiscating and killings animals rescued by our troops rather than allowing our men and women of the Armed Forces who have sacrificed so much to adopt and take home the animals that have helped them through the horrors of war. Our troops and their pets should not suffer anymore. Urge the military to rescind this part of GO-1A.
Ratchet was lucky. Tens of thousands of citizens just like you signed a petition urging clemency for Ratchet. And, after several tries the wonderful people of the SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pup program were able to secure his release and bring him home to Minnesota where he now waits for Sgt. Beberg's return.
Many other dogs and cats of our brave service men and women still need our help. Everyone of us, no matter our opinion of the current war is, can support our troops by asking the Department of Defense to immediately end their policy against confiscating and killing our soldiers rescued pets.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
It is time that Americans ask the Veterans Administration and military to embrace the mental health of all our soldiers.
Urge the Department of Defense to reverse military policy about soldiers keeping pets.
Tell them that a policy that includes a vaccination campaign would not only be good for public health, but also good for the soldier's morale.
And, finally show a cooperative spirit with the efforts of rescue groups helping those soldiers who wish to adopt their pets and transport them back to America for safe keeping. The benefits to the soldiers returning from war to find their pet waiting their for them is undeniably beneficial to the soldier's mental and emotional well being.
U.S. Soldiers and their beloved pets need our help!
Bandaid - rescued from Iraq, November 2008
SPCA International completed FIVE rescue missions into Iraq in March 2009. They hope to return to Iraq in May to rescue more dogs & cats for our soldiers before the heat embargoes go into effect.
Washington, DC, November 5 - Operation Baghdad Pups is a SPCA International (http://www.spca.com/) initiative created to provide medical care, clearance and transport for animals U.S. soldiers have come to love during deployment in the Middle East. Today, SPCA International successfully rescued a therapy dog from Iraq that has served hundreds of U.S. servicemen and women in their struggle to maintain mental stability during their deployment in Iraq. The dog was appropriately named Bandaid by mental health NCO SSG Luke Henry who befriended her and trained her to help comfort hundreds of soldiers on a base near Baghdad.
"Bandaid has helped me stay sane and has shown love to many other soldiers. I counsel as many as 15 soldiers a day, but Bandaid is often a better counselor than me. Her wagging tail can do more for soldiers than hours spent talking to me in some instances. One soldier walks a mile from the other side of the FOB just to see her," explains SSG Luke Henry.
Bandaid was rescued along with 3 other soldiers' dogs. All 4 dogs will arrive at Dulles International Airport in Virginia tomorrow afternoon.
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 military refuses to formally recognize the lifeline these animals give to our mentally wounded soldiers. SSG Luke Henry and his family request donations be made at www.SPCA.com to help more soldiers save the animals they love from the war zone. SPCA International is a non-profit animal welfare organization that has been helping U.S. troops rescue their pets since September 2007. Operation Baghdad Pups is sponsored by I Love Dogs, Inc (www.ilovedogs.com/) and funded entirely by generous donations from the public.
News from SPCA International, November 4, 2008 SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pups will bring home 4 more dogs this Thursday, arriving at Washington Dulles. We will highlight one of the dog's stories tomorrow. Please donate to Operation Baghdad Pups and support our troops and their pets.
General Order 1-A (GO-1A) is a set of regulations formulated by the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) in late 2000, prohibiting the keeping of animals stating the conduct is "prejudicial to the maintenance of good order and discipline of all forces."
The other provisions of GO-1A forbids alcohol in nations where its use is frowned upon; bars soldiers from entering sites of religious significance except under special order; bans drug use, pornography, and gambling; bars religious proselytizing; and criminalizes the theft or destruction of archaeological artifacts or national treasures and the taking of souvenirs. These are understandable provisions.
However, caring for an animal or pet should not be among these offenses. The military refuses to help or formally recognize the lifeline these animals give to our mentally wounded. Veterans returned from Iraq are committing suicide at twice the rate of average Americans.
We have heard from many service members in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking intervention in the fate of their rescued animals who are in grave danger of being confiscated and killed by military authorities. Soldiers have confirmed that the there is an order to kill dogs found on American bases in Iraq. Some military units were also ordered to shoot animals on sight.
The goodhearted service members are no less culpable in the eyes of military brass; those who breach the policy on pets face the threat of serious punishment, including reduction in rank and court-martial.
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East have befriended 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 DOD's rationale behind this provision is also one of "public health concern" for which the DOD actually hired contractors to kills dogs and cats in Iraq. Perhaps a more humane approach should have been investing in the shipment and distribution of rabies vaccines rather than hiring contractors to kill animals. And, if a soldier decides to befriend a dog or cat, he or she should immediately apply for a vaccine to cement that friendship and make it a safer one.
We could minimize the risk created by shipping pets to the United States by requiring that no animals be sent from Iraq or Afghanistan unless vaccinated at least 30 days prior to entry and placed in an extended stateside quarantine for further observation.
Whatever its motivations for the confiscation and killing of animals, our government should do more to reconcile the imperatives of public health with the humane treatment of animals and the well being of its military personnel. The keeping of animals by soldiers is an American tradition, one that should be honored and celebrated. Even soldiers during the American Civil War had animal mascots. The GO-1A is a grim "about-face."
The military needs to do whatever it necessary to encourage and sustain the morale of the men and woman in our Armed Forces. Given all that we know about the mental health benefits of keeping companion animals, why not strive for a kinder and better solution for the soldiers who risk their lives each day? But there is an even larger purpose at issue. The military's current draconian approach is inconsistent with its own actions in helping to build an animal shelter to anchor the new animal welfare organization in Iraq. By honoring our soldiers' compassionate inclinations, we can set a better example for Iraqis who, it is to be hoped, will embrace animal welfare as an important element in the reconstruction of civil society in their nation.
FYI: During the Vietnam War the U.S. Military had 4,000 dogs working side by side with our troops every day - search and destroy missions, locating dead and wounded, locating mines and traps, for example. When the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam, it deemed these dogs that had given faithful service to our troops as now "expendable equipment."
Of the 4,000 dogs that were a part of our Armed Forces in Vietnam - only 200 made it back home. The rest were released into the wild to either roam in packs, be eaten by the Vietnamese people, and many (if not most) were killed.
We have heard from many Veterans, asking that we never allow this disregard for the importance of animals to our soldiers to ever happen again. Vietnam veterans are still haunted to this day by the memories of the dogs they were forced to leave behind. We all OWE it to the troops, our Veterans and those animals to make sure that ANY negative policy towards animals changes.
The people of M.A.R.S. Safe Haven, SPCA International and Care2.com are dedicated to the cause of helping soldiers adopt their pets and securing safe passage for them back to the U.S., as well as efforts to rescind the current military policy towards soldiers and animals, prohibiting such actions.
Remarks to the Daughters of the American Revolution (Washington, D.C.)
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington, D.C., Friday, July 11, 2008
"...And, of course... One group leads an international effort to bring back to the United States dogs that have been adopted in theater ... and that units are loath to leave behind. It may seem a small thing, but in the midst of war, cats and dogs become part of the unit. As one soldier said, Even the gnarliest dudes turn to putty around...our dogs."
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