SOURCE: SPCA International
NEW YORK, NY February 23 – In an incredible story of life or death, two soldiers’ dogs rescued from Baghdad, Liberty and K-Pot, set paw on US soil for the first time today. Thanks to the hard work and quick acting of SPCA International’s Operations Baghdad Pups program and sponsors i Love Dogs, these two dogs will now live safe, long lives out of the war zone in new US homes.
Liberty and K-Pot have a wonderful, loving future ahead of them here in the United States, but their future was not as certain a few days ago. Liberty and K-Pot have been living with a unit of soldiers as their “Force Protection K-9s,” but anyone who meets them can see that these little puppies probably were not doing much protecting. Their official status as Force Protection K-9s bought the unit a little more time to find a way to get them out of Iraq. However, just two weeks ago, the unit received new orders to report to the Forward Operating Base (FOB) and leave Liberty and K-Pot behind. The unit feared they had to leave their morale-boosting companions behind to fend for themselves on Iraqi streets where people do not see dogs as pets, but as pests.
In a last effort to find a way to save Liberty and K-Pot, the unit contacted SPCA International’s Operations Baghdad Pups to plead for help. Quickly, the SPCA International team jumped into action and plans were in place to send a representative from SPCA International to Baghdad to rescue these pups from certain death.
Today, the quick response paid off as Liberty and K-Pot were welcomed home at JFK International Airport by Amanda Lehneke, wife of the US Army Lieutenant who first found and rescued Liberty during a house raid after the enemy was detained, and Danielle Berger, sister of the US Army Medic who found K-Pot tangled in razor wire and nursed his wounds with Neosporin. An excited team of SPCA International and I Love Dogs staff and volunteers were also there to welcome them home.
“Liberty and K-Pot are not isolated incidents. Everyday our troops are finding and adopting animals in Iraq and Afghanistan that give them peace and solace through the horrors of war. SPCA International has been receiving 2 to 3 new requests daily to help rescue our soldiers’ companions from the war zone,” explains SPCA International Director of Communications, Stephanie Scroggs. “Rescuing each dog can cost $4,000 or more depending on how far from Baghdad the soldiers are based. SPCA International knows this is a high price to pay, but our men and women in uniform risk their lives everyday for our freedom. The least we can do is to help rescue the animals that have given them love and comfort through these harsh times.”
“We are so thankful for Operation Baghdad Pups because K-Pot was a piece of home to my brother in Iraq. Now, K-Pot is a piece of Matt back here at home,” says Berger. “My entire family is committed to fundraising for SPCA International’s Operation Baghdad Pups program because we know first hand how vital this program is for our troops.”
“I never thought this day would come! Liberty eased the trauma of dealing with casualties for my husband’s unit,” explains Lehneke. “I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been for him to leave her behind and that’s why we are donating as much as we can to keep Operation Baghdad Pups going. Operation Baghdad Pups needs to be able to continue helping as many soldiers and families as possible.”