We'd also like to hear your personal stories about other soldiers and their adopted dogs and cats: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us for updates as we work towards positive policy change for our soldiers and their pets: email@example.com
Soldier's Iraqi puppy arrives in U.S., tail wagging! (AP)
By FREDERIC J. FROMMER CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) - October 20, 2008
A black puppy decked out in a red, white and blue bandanna jumped out of his crate and wagged his tail at the airport Monday, three flights and two days after leaving Iraq en route to his new home with a U.S. soldier.
Army Spc. Gwen Beberg of Minneapolis says she couldn't have made it through her 13-month deployment without Ratchet, who she and another soldier rescued from a burning pile of trash in May. Ratchet, wearing a dog-bone-shaped collar with its name, will spend two nights in a kennel before flying to Minneapolis, where Beberg's parents will pick him up. Beberg is scheduled to return home next month.
"I'm very excited that Ratchet will be waiting for me when I get home from Iraq! Words can't describe it," Beberg said in an e-mail to friends and family. "I hope that Ratchet's story will inspire people to continue the efforts to bring more service members' animals home from Iraq and Afghanistan."
The dog was rescued by Baghdad Pups, run by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International. The group, which has now brought 63 animals to the U.S., says the effort both saves dogs and cats and helps soldiers who benefit from the bond with the animals.
The military bars troops from caring for pets while on duty or taking them home, citing reasons such as health issues and difficulties in caring for the animals. The military didn't prevent Ratchet from leaving but said it wouldn't be responsible for transportation.
Baghdad Pups coordinator Terri Crisp, who brought the puppy back from Iraq, said animals adopted by soldiers help them get through difficult times. "I hope Ratchet and his story will lead to some dialogue with the military," Crisp said as she stroked the puppy.
Ratchet flew on a charter flight to Kuwait, then flew commercial from Kuwait to Amsterdam and on to Washington. Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest Airlines picked up the cost of the last two legs.
Ratchet frolicked on a grassy patch outside the airport before heading off to Clocktower Animal Hospital in Herndon, Va., for a checkup and some shots. "Your tail's wagging!" said Dr. Chris Carskaddan, the veterinarian, as he greeted the dog. "So cute."
Ratchet didn't bark at all, but let out a whimper during the shots. Afterward, Carskaddan declared the dog "extremely healthy."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From Stephanie Scroggs of Operation Baghdad Pups: October 19 Washington, DC - SPCA International (http://www.spca.com/) is proud to announce that Ratchet is on his way home from Iraq after 2 previously thwarted rescue attempts. Today, the old saying is proven true, "the third time's a charm."
Operation Baghdad Pups program manager, Terri Crisp, and Ratchet met at the Baghdad airport tonight and boarded a plane bound for the U.S. After SPCA International received military clearance on Wednesday, October 15, for Ratchet's travel, the organization set this final rescue plan into action. Last week, the world got behind Ratchet and Spc. Beberg's plight; an online petition site collected over 65,000 signatures pleading for Ratchet's release.
Crisp and Ratchet are scheduled to arrive at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC on Monday afternoon. Ratchet will be cleared by the Center for Disease Control and given a thorough medical evaluation by a local Virginia veterinarian. As long as Ratchet receives a clean bill of health, he will fly to his final destinations, Minneapolis, MN, on Wednesday.
Northwest Airlines, a Minnesota base company, generously donated Ratchet and Crisp's flights from Kuwait to Minneapolis, MN.
THANKS SO MUCH to EVERYONE for making this a happy ending!!!
Join our mailing list to receive future updates on continued efforts to help our men and women in the Armed Forces adopt their pets and bring about change to the military's policies on this issue: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Saving Private Ratchet gifts at: www.cafepress.com/ratchet22
All proceeds go to the SPCA.
READ the AP Press Release about Ratchet en route to the U.S.
From War Zone to Loving Home - Associated Press video, June 2008
URGENT! PLEASE DONATE to Operation Baghdad Pups
http://www.baghdadpups.com/ and www.SPCA.com
UPDATE: Ratchet Rescue Press Release
"Washington, DC October 17 - SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pups program manager, Terri Crisp, boarded a plane bound for the Middle East today for the third time this month. This time Crisp leaves with assurance from the military that Ratchet has the clearance needed to meet her at Baghdad Airport. SPCA International (www.spca.com) anticipates Ratchet's successful rescue Sunday evening, October 19th.
Crisp flew back to the Middle East today after a mere 12 hours on the ground in Washington, DC. Crisp arrived in Washington at 12:45am EST today with six dogs from the Wednesday, October 15th Baghdad rescue. Over the weekend, these six dogs will be delivered to their final destinations in Wisconsin, Kansas, Tennessee, Georgia and California. "
From M.A.R.S. Safe Haven:
Cross your fingers everyone! We'll all be relieved when Ratchet is safely in the care of the SPCA and on his way back home to America. We'll keep you posted.
What happens after Ratchet is united with his family in Minnesota? Well, then we work to get the rest of the animals that have been adopted by our soldiers safely home to their families here in the states. We know far too much about PTSD and the benefits of companion animals to ignore this issue.
UPDATE: *** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
Military Provides Ratchet Clearance, But Not in Time
Washington, DC October 15 - Ratchet did not make today's SPCA International (http://www.spca.com/) flight out of Iraq. Just 30 minutes before SPCA International's rescue expert, Terri Crisp, was to lift off from the Baghdad tarmac, the military finally gave Ratchet clearance to be released from his location at COP Meade. The military's slow response has put him at risk because they did not release him in time for today's flight out of Iraq. 6 other U.S. soldiers' dogs are on their way to safety escorted by Terri Crisp, Operation Baghdad Pups program manager.
SPCA International and Congressional officials pursued every measure at their disposal, but the military was too slow to act. Ratchet's fate hangs by a thin thread of hope that he will be kept safe long enough for SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pups team to return. SPCA International plans to make another emergency return trip to rescue Ratchet as soon as Sunday.
Ratchet's story below
Soldier who saved puppy from life of hardship in Iraq could see her dog face certain death.
Operation Baghdad Pups Dedication video:
Source: Eddie Wrenn/World News Online
Young Ratchet could face the death-penalty by U.S. Army officials
A soldier who saved the life of a young puppy in Iraq and expected to bring him back home with her could see her dog face certain death in Iraq.
Sgt. Gwen Beberg, a decorated soldier, has been held by the military more than 15 months past her original commitment due to the stop-loss policy. Sgt. Beberg befriended puppy Ratchet while serving in Iraq, and sent regular dispatches to her home in Minneapolis charting the dog's process, with 100s of fans tuning in on Facebook to follow the pup's life.
But the U.S. military takes a strict line with soldiers befriending animals, and confiscated Ratchet as Sgt. Beberg prepared to fly home from Baghdad Airport. Bringing wartime pets back home has always been a haphazard affair. It's also against U.S. military rules. In Iraq, adopting a stray is technically a violation of General Order 1B.
Operation Baghdad Pups, a program run by SPCA International, which has the motto 'No buddy gets left behind', is pleading with the U.S. Army to allow Ratchet to fly out of the country - amid fears the dog will die if left behind.
Sgt. Beberg's mother Patricia said: '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."
Sgt. Beberg is also under military investigation for befriending the dog that saved her life.
A close friend of Sgt Beberg said: 'It hasn't been easy for her - and the puppy she saved has been one of the few things that has kept her going. She's shared pictures of him as he grew from a frightened ball of fur to an adorable young dog.
Gwen with 'lifeline' Ratchet in Iraq
She's kept us up-to-date on his travel schedule, and badgered us into contributing money to bring him home.
Soldiers can face immediate court-marshal for befriending animals and some even see their animals brutally murdered by a direct gunshot to the head from commanding officers who will not bend the rules.
It was so close... Ratchet was on his way to the airport. And now he might not have a chance to be with Gwen and her family, and she might be punished herself because she dared to care about him.
One soldier wrote to Baghdad Pups: "I have sacrificed a lot to serve my country. All that I ask in return is to be allowed to bring home the incredible dog that wandered into my life here in Iraq and prevented me from becoming terribly callous towards life."
The SPCA International has asked the U.S. Army to show clemency to Ratchet, and allow the dog to return to Gwen's parents in Minnesota and friends of Gwen have launched a campaign to get American senators to intervene.
This comment is one among many with similar pleas left on the petition:
"I'm Army Corps of Engineer employee stationed in Afghanistan. A year away from my family, friends, parents, and my own Bassett Hound named Baxter. I have seen the memorial ceremonies for 10 of our young soldiers and no one over here can walk away not be depressed knowing that it could have been anyone your standing beside. We have a young puppy here... Every one of the soldiers she visits each day is a little bit happier for awhile. A small amount of love from a dog can change the attitude of several soldiers and hour, faster and more efficiently than any stress counselor in this theater of war.
We send dogs to hospitals, treatment centers, prisons, and millions into our homes so we can have some unconditional love and puppy therapy. I can go home at any time, but the soldiers and sailors here just get stoplossed, extended and depressed increases daily as time goes by. As for our puppy her fate is sealed, when she gets large enough for some uncompassionate leader here to notice her, she will be capture and shot as a nuisance. And a lot less happiness for many soldiers,sailors and civilians will exists on Fob Lightning as another shot rings forth."
Do you have a story to tell about your experience or a loved ones experience as a soldier and their special bond with a dog or cat while serving in the Armed Forces?
Share it with us at: email@example.com
Ratchet as a puppy
IF YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE for Gwen and other soldiers, donate to Baghdad Pups. It can cost over $4000 to bring back a dog or cat to the US, and Baghdad Pups receives 3-4 new requests from soldiers every week. Please help them to continue their mission.
We can make a difference. It's called the "Court of Public Opinion" and they will listen... Spread the word!
UPDATE: Katie has let us know that Ratchet has until early next week to be officially released in order to make the Operation Baghdad flight out of Iraq.
HERE ARE THE CURRENT PROBLEMS:
ISSUE 1: Ratchet is not allowed to leave. Since officers are refusing to let Ratchet go, he needs a military order to officially release him to leave Iraq.
ISSUE 2: Baghdad Pups needs donations to sponsor their upcoming trip to Iraq. Ratchet was scheduled to leave on their October 6th flight. Their next flight is early next week, and Ratchet must be on it. Gwen will be shipping out later this month and Ratchet will have to be abandoned if he doesn't leave before her.
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
First, contact Minnesota senators and representatives (even if you're not from here). Here are some details:
Ratchet is at Camp Striker in Iraq / 15 other dogs were allowed to leave with Baghdad Pups on the flight Ratchet was supposed to be on. / The base's commanding officers seized Ratchet on his way to the airport. /
Ratchet has had his necessary vaccinations and is HEALTHY. / Ratchet needs a military release because the military is refusing to let him leave Iraq.
Calling is best because Senators and Representatives get thousands of emails. However, click here for a sample email if you prefer that.
Here is the Contact information for the MN Senators and Gwen's Representative:
Senator Amy Klobuchar:
(888) 224-9043 -or- (612) 727-5220
Senator Norm Coleman:
(800) 642-6041 -or- (651) 645-0323
Representative Keith Ellison,
(West Twin Cities, Minneapolis)
Second, donate to Baghdad Pups! When Ratchet is released, Baghdad Pups needs to be able to pick him up from Iraq. Since Sgt Beberg will be transferred at the end of the month, Ratchet must be on Baghdad Pups next trip. Donate: Help Ratchet get another plane ticket.
By donating to them, you will not only help Ratchet get home, but you will also help other soldiers save their dogs and cats. As Gwen told Katie, "The [Baghdad Pups] program manager has made it pretty clear in her emails to those with animals that if some immediate funding doesn't roll in, they may not be able to rescue all 70 some animals on the schedule for this fall. That would be terribly sad."
Third, pass this story along. Tell your friends and let them know how they can help. The more people working to help Ratchet, the better for all the soldiers and the animals they have grown to love.
Sign the petition to demand release of Ratchet. Let's surpass our goal!
Thank you to everyone for their support and help getting attention for Ratchet. Let's keep this amazing story going. If you want to get in contact with SPCA International and Operation's Baghdad Pups on Ratchet's behalf, they have set-up a special email address for him.
Send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks from M.A.R.S. Haven to EVERYONE that has spent so much time posting, emailing, calling, blogging and signing petitions in a combined effort to bring Ratchet safely home with Gwen. Thanks to Katie & Stephanie for the updates!
MESSAGE FROM: 10:40 pm PDT, Oct 8, Gwen Beberg, Minnesota
" THANK YOU TO EVERYONE SUPPORTING MY DOG!! I can't get this done without the hundreds of people supporting me, nay, THOUSANDS! I am moved to tears. Thank you, over an over, for taking our story to heart and contributing to Ratchet's wagging tail being the first thing to greet me when I go home!"
We found this on the Department of Defense website and wanted to share it with you. 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, then there are the stories of citizens like you citizens whose support plays a pivotal, if rarely discussed, role in this narrative. Hundreds of grassroots organizations are supporting our troops providing homes or plane tickets or supplies for Iraqi school children. 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."
Update: posted to the SPCA's site today 10/08/08:
At least 5 other soldiers are facing situations similar to Sgt. Beberg as the military cracks down on animal friendships the y consider to be harmful. SPCA International strongly disagrees, citing medical studies and military insiders who testify to the mental health benefits animals bring to their soldier companions in times of depression and crisis. "
There comes a point when Americans must ask, whose side is the military on? The way the military is blatantly disregarding free therapy for our mentally wounded soldiers begs that question today," states Terri Crisp, Operation Baghdad Pups Program Manager.
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 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. It is time that Americans ask the Veterans Administration and the military to embrace all measures to ensure the mental health of every one of our soldiers returning from war. Operation Baghdad Pups dogs and cats can help fight this silent killer.
Update: From the StarTribune - Minneapolis, Minnesota Oct 12 2008
"There are commanding officers there who are animal lovers and recognize that these animals make a difference," Crisp said. "We've had high-ranking officials bring out animals themselves." Ratchet, she said, has been the only animal confiscated once the evacuation process had begun, but at least 36 other animals that soldiers were trying to get out of Iraq have been destroyed. "To me, it's totally senseless, because they took away something that could help soldiers, and this just causes more trauma for them," Crisp said.
Update: From TwinCities.com Minnesota Oct 12 2008
On Friday, Beberg wrote that she was transferred to a staging area in preparation for her trip out of Iraq in November. Just before she was transferred Friday, she went to check on Ratchet.
"I found no leash, no dog, no trace," she wrote. "The incoming unit replacing mine has said they do not want the dog. I'm almost crying too hard to type."
Update: Amid reports that Ratchet was missing, Stephanie has let us know that Ratchet has been found by a fellow soldier. Although Ratchet's exact location is unclear, Sgt. Beberg was told the dog is safe, for now. 10/13/08 5:09pm est
Terri Crisp, Operation Baghdad Pups Program Manager, and Patricia Beberg, mother of U.S. Sgt. Gwen Beberg, are available for interviews.
FYI: Is signing a petition effective? Yes! In general, the more a target organization is impacted by public opinion, the more effective are the petitions. Journalists write stories about the petitions, signers get inspired to take additional actions, and other "potential targets" conform their behavior to avoid being a target. The more signatures the greater the impact!
M.A.R.S. Safe Haven Mission Statement:
To raise public awareness as to the plight many soldiers and their beloved companions face. To respectfully request policy changes that will reflect a more humane approach to securing the bonds between our service men and woman and the animals they come to love and care for under the most difficult of circumstances.
Most reading this petition were not even aware that these problems existed. Educating the public and sharing this with family and friends will go a long way in helping these soldiers and their animals. It encourages people to get involved and donate. Hopefully, one day no soldier will go through this again. History itself has shown us that public opinion can move mountains.
Here are some pictures of other puppies free from the war - thanks to Operation Baghdad Pups. These animals can make all the difference in a soldier's life.
Beatrice/Baghdad Pups Abibi/Baghdad Pups
Chewey/Operation Baghdad Pups
More photos can be found at Operation Baghdad Pups website. Operation Baghdad Pups also has a WISH LIST of items they regularly need when bringing dogs and cats home from Iraq and Afghanistan to the United States. These items help reduce the overall cost per animal and allow Operation Baghdad Pups to help more animals. If you can donate items, please email email@example.com
Things like red or blue adjustable collars and leashes, house training pads to line transport crates, approved airline crates, etc. Please visit their site for a complete list of items they need. Thank you...
Want to see how much animals mean to our troops? WATCH
Operation Baghdad Pup dedication video:
Here's a video of another soldier's struggle to get their dog out of Iraq:
Soldier's homecoming with his dogs
M.A.R.S. Safe Haven is a division of M.A.R.S. Productions
Website: http://www.marsproductions.net/ and http://www.mars-safehaven.net/
M.A.R.S. Safe Haven is dedicated to supporting rescue effort programs and animal welfare. We are active in finding forever homes for abused, abandoned, senior and special needs animals. We network to rescue and support the well being of dogs and cats.
Terrie Scott: Owner of M.A.R.S. Productions/M.A.R.S. Safe Haven, mother, film producer, writer/photographer, Army Veteran, PA-NCO
Rachel Scott: Owner of M.A.R.S. Productions/M.A.R.S. Safe Haven, actress, writer, film producer
Ron Sohler: Formerly employed by the U.S. Navy, C.I.A., Intel Corp, and retired Animal Control Officer from Kitsap County, Washington.
M.A.R.S. Safe Haven was awarded the following for our efforts to help Operation Baghdad Pups in Iraq.
Trying to Get Furry Friends Out of Iraq
Dogs of War
This petition was created by M.A.R.S. Safe Haven, Mason, Ohio on Tue, October 7, 2008 11:46 pm
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