October 14th, 2008
05:03 PM ET

Puppy stays in Iraq, Army tells soldier

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/US/10/14/iraq.puppy.ap/art.puppy.ap.jpg caption="Sgt. Gwen Beberg and another soldier rescued the puppy, Ratchet, from a burning pile of trash in May."]

WASHINGTON (AP) – More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Army to let an Iraqi puppy come home with a Minnesota soldier, who fears that "Ratchet" could be killed if left behind.

"I just want my puppy home," Sgt. Gwen Beberg of Minneapolis wrote to her mother in an e-mail Sunday from Iraq, soon after she was separated from the dog following a transfer. "I miss my dog horribly." Beberg, 28, is scheduled to return to the U.S. next month.

Ratchet's defenders are ratcheting up their efforts to save him. On Monday, the program coordinator for Operation Baghdad Pups, which is run by Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International, left for a trip to the Middle East to try to get the puppy to the U.S.

And last week, Beberg's congressman, Democrat Keith Ellison, wrote to the Army urging it to review the case.

Beberg and another soldier rescued the puppy from a burning pile of trash back in May. Defense Department rules prohibit soldiers in the U.S. Central Command, which includes Iraq, from adopting pets, but exceptions have been made. Operation Baghdad Pups says it has gotten 50 dogs and six cats transferred to the U.S. in the last eight months.
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"I'm coping reasonably well because I refuse to believe that Ratchet has been hurt," Beberg wrote in the e-mail to her mother, Patricia Beberg. "If I find out that he was killed though - well, we just won't entertain that possibility."

The mother said her daughter sent another e-mail saying that she confirmed that the dog was still alive and doing OK.

Operation Baghdad Pups' program coordinator, Terry Crisp, is scheduled to arrive in Baghdad on Wednesday. Crisp said the adopted dogs left behind face death on Iraqi streets.

She said Iraqis view dogs and cats as nuisances and carriers of disease, and U.S. soldiers have rescued many of them from abuse.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Iraq
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Jim From CT

    It’s sad that a way cannot be found to first, change the rules or at least make them more flexible and second, to find a way that the soldier, the military & the SPCA can work together. It is human nature that some soldiers will become attached to dogs or cats in the field; it's a situation that is unavoidable no matter the rules. It's time to change this rule and make it clear that while the military does frown upon this bond being made it accepts that it will happen and create a way to deal with it in compassionate way. I see no reason that in the last days of a soldier’s prolonged tour of duty protecting our liberty that she should now have to deal with an unnecessary situation as this. The dog is the VERY LEAST we should do for her. Why at the last moment seize the dog from her as it was nearly out of the country and would no longer be an issue for her superiors? To make an example of her? Yea, great example – possibly killing her dog! “Thanks for your service now we're going to kill your dog”. Thanks US Army you have set a wonderful example of how NOT to handle a situation like this. Reprimand her, accept the situation and send the dog home. Release Ratchet! Let them both go home to MN.

    October 15, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  2. chuck

    Georgr Bush-–Cann't you be sober just for a while and make a smart decision? If not let Cheney make the decision for you because he hasn't done anything good for eight years. Let the dog come to the United States. Have MERCY George,stop being stupid or i'll let you go on Daviv Letterman's show and then you will look like dog.

    October 15, 2008 at 10:23 am |
  3. Bev

    Can someone explain to me the "reasoning" behind the Army's decision to not let soldiers bring animals home with them? Do they think these animals are spies?

    Bev. . . Army brat

    October 15, 2008 at 8:38 am |
  4. Alex

    Sgt BeBerg has AT LEAST earned this privilege. With all the MAC flights back and forth from Iraq, there is no reason why "Ratchet" can't come home with her. Army, do the right thing!

    October 15, 2008 at 8:29 am |
  5. Kathryn Richardson

    Let this puppy come home to it's mistress. Animals can be good therapy. There has to be something good coming out ot this world. Have a heart and let Ratchet come home. This administration has screwed up enough. How about showing some feelings!!!!!! Kate from Becker, MN

    October 14, 2008 at 11:14 pm |
  6. alex bello

    Here we go again, Government screwing with our troops. 🙁
    give her the dog....

    October 14, 2008 at 10:58 pm |
  7. Bob in Baltimore

    File this under "Really Stupid Pentagon Rules"

    Those idiots can buy a toilet seat for $1,000 but not allow a loving animal to be brought home from a war torn country and adopted by the soldier who rescued him.

    This escapes the bounds of humanity or common sense. I hope Obama gets rid of the whole bunch of morons that run the Army.

    October 14, 2008 at 8:56 pm |
  8. Jo Ann

    I can’t believe the government is wasting time trying to keep these two friends apart! Why would the Army choose to allow “Ratchet” to die alone on the streets of Baghdad instead of allowing him to be reunited with Sgt. Beberg?

    There is so much death and destruction in a war zone; the Army should take this opportunity to do something positive like this. Beberg paid her dues and deserves some consideration and “Ratchet” should be rewarded for making the Sergeant’s time in Baghdad a little more bearable!

    Is there anything we can do to make this happen?

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    October 14, 2008 at 8:34 pm |
  9. Betty/ Iowa

    For this soldiers service for our country, can't a little thing like a dog be a reward . It would make her feel so good to have a friend come home with her. She deserves to be paid with a little kindness.

    October 14, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  10. Ron San Bruno , Ca

    Let the dog come home under the don't ask don't tell policy,and too Hell with the Bureaucracy.

    October 14, 2008 at 8:12 pm |
  11. leslie

    Let her have the puppy she served bravely why is this even a debate

    October 14, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  12. Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    I just signed the petition online, it's now close to 35,000 signatures. The pictures of Ratchet as a pup and with this soldier are adorable. It's obvious these two should be together. Keeping my fingers crossed that the army does the right thing.

    October 14, 2008 at 8:01 pm |
  13. Colleen

    The absolute LEAST we can do for her is to let her have the dog.

    October 14, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  14. Presley

    This is absurd.
    A dog who brought some normalcy, sanity and comfort to make life bearable in unimagined circumstances should be rewarded with a home and people that WUV HIM!
    Our troops find familiarity with these rescued furry fwends, it actually helps them while being so far from the familiar.


    October 14, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  15. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,Tx

    As if this war is not cruel enough, let's make man's best friend suffer too.
    I am NOT a proud American!

    October 14, 2008 at 7:12 pm |
  16. Lilibeth

    Seems to me the only chance Ratchet has for survival is if he comes home to the U.S. I hope the Army has mercy on this dog. He’s been through enough as it is.

    Edmonds, Washington

    October 14, 2008 at 7:09 pm |
  17. Larry

    We can never pay the members of our brave men and women who put their lives on the line everyday in the military, police forces, firefighters, so that we can have the right to live in this republic.

    Is asking to keep and bring her pal home too much of a hardship on our Embassy in Iraq, which is costing us near on a BILLION dollars?

    October 14, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  18. Kimberly, Bailey, Colorado

    How cruel can you people be not to let this dog come to america to be with its owner. But I guess its ok to let all the illegal immigrants in. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    October 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm |
  19. Barbara Pacheco

    If our current president didn't send her to Iraq in the first place. We would not be talking about this today. It is about time everyone came home including the adopted puppy.

    October 14, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  20. virginia

    I have been following this sad story. I pray Gwen will be reunited with Ratchet in the U.S.
    Give to Operation Bahgdad Pups! Its a great organization doing good work for our furry and military friends.

    October 14, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  21. pati mc., camp hill, pa

    Aw, come on people, Please allow Gwen to have her dog. That is the worst kind of cruel. Like she has not lost enough having served in Iraq. Seriously.

    Kudos to Terry Crisp and Operation Baghdad Pups'. Hope you add this to the Impact Your World section so that we may contribute.

    October 14, 2008 at 5:51 pm |
  22. Holly G

    I hope they don't consult McCain/Palin on this issue..................I'm sure they would feel that the dog is a Muslim and a terrorist and will more that likely try to register to vote!

    October 14, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  23. hometowndemocrat

    She bravely served her country, the least we can do is let her bring her dog home.

    October 14, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  24. Cindy

    AWW...they should let her bring that puppy home if it is in danger in Iraq. They can test it for diseases before they let it into the US. I hope that Operation Baghdad Pups can do something to get the puppy over here.


    October 14, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  25. Larry

    I thought I'd read or seen some segment on tv that soldiers coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan were being reunited with dogs they had adopted.

    October 14, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  26. Marcus

    I think she deserves the dog, GOD knows we dont pay her enough to fight in this war.

    October 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  27. Suze

    So many dogs have been left abandoned for people can't afford to feed them or their owner is dead, so the least we can do for those innocent pets and their owners that surely love them and made those difficult decisions to abandon them so they could feed their kids, is to let soldiers who want provide homes for them! And if so many abandon pets have indeed become nusances and carriers of disease and since it is hard enough since the occupation for Iraqi children to find safe places to play, then let our soldiers help relocate abandoned pets... its the humane thing to do!

    October 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm |