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Iraq Dog, Ratchet, Finally Comes Home


Iraq Dog, Ratchet, Finally Comes Home

By Amy Lieberman
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ratchet, the military dog detained by the U.S. Army in Iraq for the past few weeks, is slated to arrive in Washington, D.C., today.

This marks the third and final rescue effort for Ratchet, a six-month-old stray U.S. Army Spc. Gwen Beberg rescued from a burning pile of trash in May.

After Beberg was notified that she was to transfer bases two weeks ago, she contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International and put the puppy on a convoy with soldiers heading toward the Baghdad airport.

Along the journey, however, Ratchet was confiscated by the U.S. Army, as Pet Pulse previously reported.

The SPCA International dispatched volunteers to rescue the dog last Wednesday in hopes of bringing him to Beberg's parents' Spring Lake Park, Minn., home.

While the military gave the dog clearance to leave the country on Wednesday afternoon, the action didn't come soon enough. Ratchet missed his flight with five other strays, accompanied by Terri Crisp, Operation Baghdad Pups' program manager.

Crisp returned to Baghdad on Sunday. She and Ratchet are now expected to arrive at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., this afternoon.

"Today, the old saying is proven true, 'the third time's a charm,' " SPCA's press release, issued today, said.

Ratchet's story has sparked a frenzy of media coverage, political support and attention from the public. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.), and Norm Coleman, (R-Minn.), have both campaigned on Beberg and Ratchet's behalf.

More than 67,000 petitioners have also voiced support for Ratchet's return.

According to the U.S. Army's General Order 1A, service members are prohibited from "adopting as pets or mascots, caring for, or feeding any type of domestic or wild animal."

Military officers have often looked the other way, though, and allowed soldiers to train and house stray dogs and cats, which provide them with much-needed comfort, SPCA International spokeswoman Stephanie Scroggs says.

Ratchet will now be cleared through the Center for Disease Control and "given a thorough medical evaluation by a local Virginia veterinarian," the SPCA release said.

"As long as Ratchet receives a clean bill of health, he will fly to his final destination, Minneapolis, Minn., on Wednesday."

Northwest Airlines, a Minnesota based airline company, provided for Ratchet and Crisp's flight from Kuwait to Minneapolis.

Operation Baghdad Pups is an SPCA International program that relocates military dogs and cats from the Middle East to the U.S.

Since its first mission in September 2007, Operation Baghdad Pups has rescued and transported more than 50 dogs and cats unofficially adopted by U.S. servicemen.

Beberg is on a 15-month deployment to Iraq and is expected to return to Minnesota sometime in November, her mother Pat Beberg told Pet Pulse.

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