Operation Baghdad Pups: Pup Ratchet Now Safe in US!


Ratchet has arrived at Dulles International Airport after a lengthy effort to reunite the pooch with the U.S. soldier who adopted him.

Ratchet arrived from Amsterdam on Monday a day after leaving Baghdad. The black dog wearing a red, white and blue bandanna jumped out of his crate, looked around and quickly flopped down on the floor in baggage claim. He’ll spend two nights in a kennel before flying to Minneapolis.

Army Spc. Gwen Beberg says she couldn’t have made it through her 13-month deployment without the dog she and another soldier rescued.

An animal rescue group brought Ratchet to the U.S. after the military said it could not be responsible for the dog’s transportation.

Here is new video from the BBC showing this special guy on his way home.


UPDATE: Last week we detailed this special tale about puppy Ratchet. Well, this special pup just got a reprieve from the U.S. military and could be headed for Minnesota by the weekend. Some US Senators and about 50,000 petition-signing dog lovers prompted the military to agree to release Ratchet, the Iraqi pup an Army sergeant is trying to get to her Minnesota home. But, due to a slow release on the part of the military, Ratchet missed the flight that would have gotten him out of Baghdad. Luckily, Operation Baghdad Pups will be trying again as they make a special trip back to Iraq this Sunday to try to retrieve him.

Thanks to Mary Jane Smetanka of The Star Tribune who is continuing to cover this touching story.

Sgt. Gwen Beberg, who adopted Ratchet as a tiny 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.


But Beberg’s mother, Pat, said she won’t relax until the dog is in the hands of Operation Baghdad Pups. The branch of SPCA International, which was founded a year ago and relies on donations to rescue dogs and cats adopted by American military personnel in Iraq, has flown more than 50 dogs and cats to the United States. “It’s wonderful,” Pat Beberg said. “But until he’s in the hands of the Operation Baghdad Pups people, we still have to be a little reserved and cautious.”

Gwen Beberg has described the puppy as a comfort during a rough year in Iraq. She is supposed to return to the United States next month, and she tried to get Ratchet to her parents’ home in Spring Lake Park before she was transferred to a new base in Iraq last week. But a superior officer confiscated the dog on the way to the airport. Military regulations prohibit soldiers from adopting pets in Iraq.

Pat Beberg learned that Ratchet’s departure from Iraq had been cleared when Sen. Amy Klobuchar called her cell phone as she was driving to the dentist. 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?”

Ratchet’s case has ignited a firestorm of interest on the Internet. 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. 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. Beberg’s parents would keep Ratchet until Beberg leaves the Army early next year.


Such a sad tale.

A mutt named Ratchet has helped Gwen Beberg survive Iraq. Now, will Ratchet survive?

Army Sgt. Gwen Beberg isn’t having an easy year in Iraq. When the Spring Lake Park native bonded with an abandoned puppy found whimpering in a burning trash heap in Baghdad, she wanted to make sure the black-and-white mutt named Ratchet made it home with her.

On Oct. 1, Beberg placed 6-month-old Ratchet on an Army convoy to the Baghdad airport, where he was to be flown to her parents’ home in Minnesota by a rescue group called Operation Baghdad Pups. But the dog was taken away by an Army officer before it reached the airplane. Beberg’s family and Operation Baghdad Pups officials now fear Ratchet will be shot.

Beberg’s sorrow has become an international cause célèbre, with online petitions signed by almost 8,000 people worldwide, bloggers taking up Ratchet’s plight and a story in a London newspaper.

Beberg, who is scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of this month, also has signed one of the Internet petitions.

Sgt. Gwen Beberg befriended puppy Ratchet while serving in Iraq. The U.S. military confiscated Ratchet as Sgt. Beberg prepared to fly home from Baghdad Airport. Operation Baghdad Pups, a program run by SPCA International, is pleading with the U.S. Army to allow Ratchet to fly out of the country – amid fears the dog awaits almost certain death if left behind.

Gwen’s mom, Pat, has been trying everything to get Ratchet home safely, noting how much this would do for her daughter’s mental health.

“There are a lot of ways of being scarred other than the physical,” Pat Beberg said. “My daughter has had a really tough time over there, living in those circumstances, and the dog has been just a godsend to her.”

Pat Beberg has called the offices of Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Amy Klobuchar for help, but it’s not clear what will happen. She also said it is not clear where Ratchet is, but he apparently is still alive.

“We’re all sending e-mails back and forth,” she said. “Everyone is working on this. I know the military has its rules, but I think it could be some very positive PR if they were to revise and review that ruling … The military is very concerned about post-traumatic stress and high rates of suicide. When my daughter called here a week ago, she had trouble talking on the phone. She’s devastated.”

Go learn more about Operation Baghdad Pups, a quite special organization.

Terri Crisp, program director of Operation Baghdad Pups, said the group has gotten 56 dogs and cats that had been adopted by military personnel out of Iraq. As a part of SPCA International, the group uses donations to fly the animals to the U.S. on commercial and private airlines. On Oct. 1, the group had flown to Baghdad to get Ratchet and 14 other animals after suspending operations during the heat of summer. Crisp said the group has tried to keep a low profile so there’s no “ruckus” over the Army’s no-pet rule.

“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.


Golden Winners of Dean Koontz Super Dog Contest

Dean Koontz recently held a “Super Dog” Contest, which ended September 15th. With so many wonderful entries, though, he had to do what I often do with my contests …. choose more winners!

The top 5 entrants each received a set of five limited, signed, and numbered collector’s editions of Dean’s books, a value of more than $1,000 plus a signed copy of Trixie’s new book, BLISS TO YOU. If you do not have this book, you must go and order a copy right away. It is just incredible. I have all of Trixie’s books but this one is definitely my favorite.

Bliss to You: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Life
Bestselling author Dean Koontz says that his dog, Trixie, changed his life and made him a better, happier person. A 68-pound dog who lived close to the ground, Trixie certainly did cast a long shadow. She first became known outside of her own house (dog-house, that is) as a guest blogger on Dean’s website, signing off every entry Life is Good, Bliss to You. Now, in this warm and funny book-as told to Dean Koontz-Trixie once again shares her inspiring outlook on life and reveals the eight steps that anyone can take to achieve not merely happiness, but bliss.

Packed with dog wisdom, both poignant and funny, this charming and heartfelt book gives the reader much food for thought-which might not be as tasty as a bowl of kibble but is nonetheless nourishing.

And, check this out. You can read an excerpt online at Dean Koontz’s site. Just click here and enjoy!


Okay, back to the contest. Of the top 5 winners, 2 were Golden Retriever folks (yea). The tales are both wonderful.

Joyce Adams and Golden Retriever Hannah Belle (Phoenix, AZ)
Hannah arrived in Arizona from Tennessee, wrapped in an anxiety vest – heavily medicated to keep her under control.  EVERYTHING terrified this beauty. Her first 8 years were spent on a puppy mill in Tennessee. She was used only for producing puppies, litter after litter, under horrid conditions. She captured my heart.  Hannah taught me patience – my reward was watching her blossom and live her remaining years happy and loved unconditionally, as it should be.

Deborah Holstein and Golden Retriever Bari (Sacramento, CA)
Bari is a gentle soul whose super hero gift appeared to be boundless love for her family, until the day she approached me with a small wet breathing object gently tucked in her mouth. She handed this precious bundle to us and led us to a nest of feral kittens – three now treasured members of my mom’s family. She continues to rescue small helpless baby animals asking only for peanut butter as her reward.

Sunbear Squad Watch Tip of the Week: October 20th

The Sunbear Squad has resolved to make a difference for neglected and abused companion animals. They are transforming animal lovers into animal welfare defenders — with knowledge, tools, and inspiration.

Watch Tip: Watch and listen for stray hunting dogs in rural areas during the hunting season, where some are coldly abandoned for poor performance. Be a Good Samaritan for Animals.

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