Tuesday, October 14, 2008

>>10,000 sign up for Operation Ratchet Petition. Operation Baghdad Pups

MEET Ratchet, the puppy saved by US soldiers from a burning pile of rubbish in Iraq.

Now the little dog that nobody wanted is stealing the hearts of Americans, with more than 10,000 people signing an online petition pleading with the US Army to let him come home with one of the soldiers who saved him.

Sergeant Gwen Beberg fears Ratchet will be killed if he is left behind.

"I just want my puppy home," Sgt Beberg wrote to her mother in the US in an email from Iraq this week, soon after she was separated from the dog after a transfer.

"I miss my dog horribly," Sgt Beberg, who is scheduled to return to the US next month, wrote.

The puppy's defenders are ratcheting up their efforts to save him. Yesterday, the program coordinator for Operation Baghdad Pups, which is run by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International, left for Iraq to try to get the dog to the US.

Last week, Sgt Beberg's congressman, Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, wrote to the US Army urging it to review the case. Sgt Beberg and another soldier rescued the puppy from a burning pile of rubbish in May.

Defence Department rules prohibit soldiers in the US Central Command, which includes Iraq, from adopting pets. Exceptions have been made with Operation Baghdad Pups which has transferred 50 dogs and six cats to the US in the last eight months.

"I'm coping reasonably well because I refuse to believe that Ratchet has been hurt," Sgt Beberg wrote to her mother, Patricia.

"If I find out that he was killed though - well, we just won't entertain that possibility."

"They knew about the regulation," Patricia Beberg said, "but excuse me, you're not going to throw the puppy back in the burning pile."

Mrs Beberg said that her daughter had confirmed that the dog was still alive and doing OK.

Operation Baghdad Pups' program coordinator Terry Crisp said that the adopted dogs left behind face a painful death on Iraqi streets.

"Iraqis view dogs and cats as rats, as nuisances, carriers of disease," she said.

US soldiers have rescued many of them from abuse, such as Iraqi men in a circle kicking a puppy or a boy pulling a puppy down the street with a rope around its neck.


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