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Tag: spca international

Mixing dogs and politics in Illinois

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, hoping to tie down the dog lovers’ vote in his re-election bid, appeared at the 109th  International Kennel Club Dog Show in Chicago Saturday and spoke out against a bill introduced by his likely Republican rival, state Sen. Bill Brady.

Earlier this month Brady, introduced legislation that would have allowed mass euthanizations of unclaimed and unadopted shelter dogs. 

Brady, after objections from the animal welfare community, later backed off the bill, which would have allowed up to 10 dogs at a time to be gassed to death with carbon monoxide.

Quinn, attempting to keep the controversy alive, appeared at the 2010 Chicago dog show at McCormick Place over the weekend to voice his displeasure over the proposed legislation, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. 
“As long as I am governor, we’re never going to pass any kind of legislation that allows cruelty toward animals, whether it be dogs, cats or any other living things,” Quinn said.

“The governor has a veto pen and we’re going to make sure we protect our animals from any kind of cruelty,” he said, then added, “There are some folks in our society unfortunately they have dollar signs for eyes, and that’s all they think about is money. We’re not going to let that kind of monetary compulsion get in the way of treating our animals in a proper, dignified, friendly manner.”

Asked if that was a shot at Brady, Quinn said, “That was a terrible piece of legislation and I think everybody in Illinois knows it. A bill was put in to allow a mass killing of dogs and cats in the gas chamber. Putting all those animals together …  for them to be subject in their last minutes on earth to that kind of cruelty, is just plain wrong …  There may be firms out there that think they can make money by mass killings of dogs, puppies and kittens. But that’s not what our state stands for and that law will never be approved.”

Quinn, who owns a 13-year-old Yorkshire terrier named Bailey.

Another soldier reunites with Iraqi dog

A Navy soldier has been reunited with the dog she rescued in Iraq.

Construction Mechanic First Class Joan Steates, who along with fellow Seabees took in a stray shepherd-mix pup named Sako, was forced to leave her behind when she came home in October.

On Monday night, they reunited at Dulles Airport, throught the efforts of SPCA International’s Operation Baghdad Pups, which provides veterinary care, clearance and transportation for animals that U.S. service members can’t bear to leave behind in the Middle East.

In the past year year, Baghdad Pups has brought 79 dogs and cats from Iraq and Afghanistan. 50 other reunions are in the works.

The SPCA says the program, funded entirely by donations, spends about $4,000 to ship each animal to the U.S.

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)

20,000 say bring Ratchet home

More than 20,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Army to let Ratchet — an Iraqi dog adopted by a U.S. soldier — come to America.

And the soldier’s congressman, Democrat Keith Ellison, has written to the Army, asking it to review the case, the Associated Press reports.

As we reported earlier, Sergeant Gwen Beberg of Minneapolis took in a puppy in May that she and another soldier rescued from a burning pile of trash.

She went through the channels to allow it to be shipped home, only to find those channels have grown narrower than they once were. Defense Department rules — though they’ve been relaxed from time to time — prohibit soldiers in the U.S. Central Command, which includes Iraq, from adopting pets.

Beberg has since been separated from the dog, which was confiscated by the Army on its way to the airport, and she fears it will be killed.

“I just want my puppy home,” Beberg wrote to her mother in an e-mail Sunday from Iraq. “I miss my dog horribly.” Beberg, 28, is scheduled to return to the U.S. next month.

Operation Baghdad Pups Program, which is run by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, International, is hoping to rescue the puppy. Its program coordinator is flying to Iraq this week to try to get Ratchet out.

Ratchet still stuck in Iraq

Fifteen more Iraqi pets befriended and taken in by U.S. soldiers made their way back to the U.S. Wednesday via Operation Baghdad Pups, but Ratchet (left) was not among them.

Scheduled to be flown home to Sgt. Gwen Beberg’s parents in Minneapolis, Ratchet was confiscated by U.S. military officials on his way to the Baghdad Airport for no apparent reason, according to SPCA International, which operates the program.

The SPCA International initiative was created to provide medical care, clearance and transport home to animals U.S. soldiers have come to love and care for during deployment in the Middle East.

On Wednesday Operation Baghdad Pups Program Manger, Terri Crisp, returned to the United States Wednesday with 15 more U.S. soldiers’ pets. But the happy occasion was marred by news that  Ratchet was left behind.

At least 5 other soldiers are facing situations similar to Sgt. Beberg’s as the military cracks down on animal friendships they consider to be harmful, SPCA International says.

“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,” said  Crisp. 

Sgt. Beberg’s mother, Patricia Beberg, was saddened by the news as well. The sergeant has been in Iraq 15 months past her original return date.

“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. I don’t know how my daughter will cope. Ratchet has been her lifeline,” explains Sgt. Beberg’s mother.

“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),” SPCA International said in a press release.

“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.”

So far, more than 1,200 have signed an online petition for the military to release Ratchet.