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Tag: flying

Ratchet is coming home

A worldwide outcry by dog lovers has led the U.S. military to agree to release Ratchet, the Iraqi puppy they had confiscated from an Army sergeant who wanted to bring him home to Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

Fifty thousand signatures on online petitions, and some help from politicians, prompted the Army to make an exception (as it has before) to its ban on soldiers adopting and bringing home pets from Iraq.

Operation Baghdad Pups, a program of SPCA International, had hoped to get the pup on a flight Wednesday, but the Army moved slowly in releasing the dog, causing it to miss a scheduled flight.

Program officials will make a special trip back to Iraq on Sunday to try to retrieve him.

Sgt. Gwen Beberg, who adopted Ratchet as a 4-week-old pup after fellow soldiers in Baghdad rescued him from a pile of burning trash, sent her mother a short e-mail Wednesday when she heard the news: “I AM THRILLED THAT RATCHET IS GOING HOME.”

Her mother, Pat Beberg, said she hopes Ratchet’s case might get the military to reconsider its policy against pets. “I want to make sure that other soldiers do not encounter this,” Beberg said. “[Gwen] is using a puppy to handle stress. Isn’t that so much better than popping a handful of pills?” 

Operation Baghdad Pups was founded a year ago and relies on donations to rescue dogs and cats adopted by American military personnel in Iraq. It has flown more than 50 dogs and cats to the United States.

Gwen Beberg, whose saw her duty in Iraq extended, is supposed to return to the United States in the coming months. When she tried to get Ratchet to her parents’ home in Spring Lake Park, a superior officer confiscated the dog on the way to the airport.

The case, through coverage by the mainstream media and intrepid dog bloggers, prompted a “firestorm of interest” on the Internet, the Star-Tribune said. By Wednesday afternoon, petitions demanding clemency for the dog had been signed by more than 50,000 people around the world, and the pup’s story was posted on almost 27,000 websites.

In addition to the petitions, supporters called congressional offices and Army headquarters this week demanding that something be done to save the dog.

The offices of Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., also pushed for the dog’s release. Northwest Airlines has offered to fly Ratchet from Kuwait to Minneapolis.

(Photo courtesy SPCA International)