Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I've been affected so much by the news of Ratchet, the recently controversial Baghdad pup, I copied the entire text of the online petition if only to highlight the seriousness, and utter ludicrousness of the rules imposed by U.S. Army officials on their soliders (sign the petition while you're at it):

Clemency for Ratchet
Target:U.S. Army
Sponsored by: M.A.R.S. Safe Haven

Soldier who saved puppy from life of hardship in Iraq could see her dog
face certain death.

URGENT! PLEASE DONATE to Operation Baghdad Pups:
www.baghdadpups.com and

They simply can not do this without our financial support as well! The more we help, the more animals can be brought home! Thanks.

Operation Baghdad Pups Dedication video:

Source: Eddie Wrenn/World News Online

Young Ratchet could face the death-penalty by U.S. Army officials

A soldier who saved the life of a young puppy in Iraq and expected to bring him back home with her could see her dog face certain death in Iraq.

Sgt. Gwen Beberg, a decorated soldier, has been held by the military more than 15 months past her original commitment due to the stop-loss policy. Sgt. Beberg befriended puppy Ratchet while serving in Iraq, and sent regular dispatches to her home in Minneapolis charting the dog's process, with 100s of fans tuning in on Facebook to follow the pup's life.

But the U.S. military takes a strict line with soldiers befriending animals, and confiscated Ratchet as Sgt. Beberg prepared to fly home from Baghdad Airport. Bringing wartime pets back home has always been a haphazard affair. It's also against U.S. military rules. In Iraq, adopting a stray is technically a violation of General Order 1B.

Operation Baghdad Pups, a program run by SPCA International, which has the motto 'No buddy gets left behind', is pleading with the U.S. Army to allow Ratchet to fly out of the country - amid fears the dog will die if left behind.

Sgt. Beberg's mother Patricia said: 'This year has been extremely difficult on my daughter and her family. 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. Now they have cruelly ripped Ratchet away from her and sentenced him to death. I don't know how my daughter will cope. Ratchet has been her lifeline."

Sgt. Beberg is also under military investigation for befriending the dog that saved her life.

A close friend of Sgt Beberg said: 'It hasn't been easy for her - and the puppy she saved has been one of the few things that has kept her going. She's shared pictures of him as he grew from a frightened ball of fur to an adorable young dog.

Gwen with 'lifeline' Ratchet in Iraq

She's kept us up-to-date on his travel schedule, and badgered us into contributing money to bring him home.

Soldiers can face immediate court-marshal for befriending animals and some even see their animals brutally murdered by a direct gunshot to the head from commanding officers who will not bend the rules.

It was so close... Ratchet was on his way to the airport. And now he might not have a chance to be with Gwen and her family, and she might be punished herself because she dared to care about him.

One soldier wrote to Baghdad Pups: "I have sacrificed a lot to serve my country. All that I ask in return is to be allowed to bring home the incredible dog that wandered into my life here in Iraq and prevented me from becoming terribly callous towards life."

The SPCA International has asked the U.S. Army to show clemency to Ratchet, and allow the dog to return to Gwen's parents in Minnesota and friends of Gwen have launched a campaign to get American senators to intervene.

Ratchet as a puppy

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE for Gwen and other soldiers, donate to Baghdad Pups. It can cost over $4000 to bring back a dog or cat to the US, and Baghdad Pups receives 3-4 new requests from soldiers every week. Please help them to continue their mission.

We can make a difference. It's called the "Court of Public Opinion" and they will listen... Spread the word!

Katie has let us know that Ratchet has until early next week to be officially released in order to make the Operation Baghdad flight out of Iraq.


Ratchet is not allowed to leave. Since officers are refusing to let Ratchet go, he needs a military order to officially release him to leave Iraq.

Baghdad Pups needs donations to sponsor their upcoming trip to Iraq. Ratchet was scheduled to leave on their October 6th flight. Their next flight is early next week, and Ratchet must be on it. Gwen will be shipping out later this month and Ratchet will have to be abandoned if he doesn't leave before her.


First, contact Minnesota senators and representatives (even if you're not from here).
Here are some details:

Ratchet is at Camp Striker in Iraq / 15 other dogs were allowed to leave with Baghdad Pups on the flight Ratchet was supposed to be on. / The base's commanding officers seized Ratchet on his way to the airport. /
Ratchet has had his necessary vaccinations and is HEALTHY. / Ratchet needs a military release because the military is refusing to let him leave Iraq.

Calling is best because Senators and Representatives get thousands of emails. However,
click here for a sample email if you prefer that.

ere is the Contact information for the MN Senators and Gwen's Representative:

Senator Amy Klobuchar:
(888) 224-9043 -or- (612) 727-5220

Senator Norm Coleman:
(800) 642-6041 -or- (651) 645-0323

Representative Keith Ellison,
(West Twin Cities, Minneapolis)
(202) 225-4755

Second, donate to Baghdad Pups! When Ratchet is released, Baghdad Pups needs to be able to pick him up from Iraq. Since Sgt Beberg will be transferred at the end of the month, Ratchet must be on Baghdad Pups next trip. Donate: Help Ratchet get another plane ticket.

By donating to them, you will not only help Ratchet get home, but you will also help other soldiers save their dogs and cats. As Gwen told Katie, "The [Baghdad Pups] program manager has made it pretty clear in her emails to those with animals that if some immediate funding doesn't roll in, they may not be able to rescue all 70 some animals on the schedule for this fall. That would be terribly sad."

Third, pass this story along. Tell your friends and let them know how they can help. The more people working to help Ratchet, the better for all the soldiers and the animals they have grown to love.

Sign the petition to demand release of Ratchet. Let's surpass our goal!

Thank you to everyone for their support and help getting attention for Ratchet. Let's keep this amazing story going. If you want to get in contact with SPCA International and Operation's Baghdad Pups on Ratchet's behalf, they have set-up a special email address for him.

Send your emails to

~ Thanks from Terrie & Rachel Scott of M.A.R.S. Safe Haven ~
A division of M.A.R.S. Productions/proud mom, dog owner & Army Veteran

Thank you to EVERYONE that has spent so much time posting, emailing, calling, blogging and signing petitions in a combined effort to bring Ratchet safely home with Gwen. Thanks to Katie & Stephanie for the updates!

MESSAGE FROM: 10:40 pm PDT, Oct 8, Gwen Beberg, Minnesota

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE SUPPORTING MY DOG!! I can't get this done without the hundreds of people supporting me, nay, THOUSANDS! I am moved to tears. Thank you, over an over, for taking our story to heart and contributing to Ratchet's wagging tail being the first thing to greet me when I go home!"

We found this on the Department of Defense website and wanted to share it with you. Remarks to the Daughters of the American Revolution (Washington, D.C.) As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington, D.C., Friday, July 11, 2008

"...And, of course, then there are the stories of citizens like you citizens whose support plays a pivotal, if rarely discussed, role in this narrative. Hundreds of grassroots organizations are supporting our troops providing homes or plane tickets or supplies for Iraqi school children. One group leads an international effort to bring back to the United States dogs that have been adopted in theater ... and that units are loath to leave behind. It may seem a small thing, but in the midst of war, cats and dogs become part of the unit. As one soldier said, Even the gnarliest dudes turn to putty around...our dogs."

Please read this update posted to the SPCA's site today 10/08/08:

At least 5 other soldiers are facing situations similar to Sgt. Beberg as the military cracks down on animal friendships the y consider to be harmful. SPCA International strongly disagrees, citing medical studies and military insiders who testify to the mental health benefits animals bring to their soldier companions in times of depression and crisis. "

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," states Terri Crisp, Operation Baghdad Pups Program Manager.

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). 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.

From the StarTribune - Minneapolis, Minnesota Oct 12 2008

"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.

From TwinCities.com Minnesota Oct 12 2008

On Friday, Beberg wrote that she was transferred to a staging area in preparation for her trip out of Iraq in November. Just before she was transferred Friday, she went to check on Ratchet.

"I found no leash, no dog, no trace," she wrote. "The incoming unit replacing mine has said they do not want the dog. I'm almost crying too hard to type."

**Update: Amid reports that Ratchet was missing, Stephanie has let us know that Ratchet has been found by a fellow soldier. Although Ratchet's exact location is unclear, Sgt. Beberg was told the dog is safe, for now. 10/13/08 5:09pm est

Terri Crisp, Operation Baghdad Pups Program Manager, and Patricia Beberg, mother of U.S. Sgt. Gwen Beberg, are available for interviews.


FYI: Is signing a petition effective? Yes! In general, the more a target organization is impacted by public opinion, the more effective are the petitions. ThePetitionSite enhances the credibility of online petitions by centralizing signature collection, structuring/regulating signature data collection and output, facilitating communication of petitions via fax, email, etc. Remember the effect of a petition usually goes far beyond the actual list of signatures. Journalists write stories about the petitions, signers get inspired to take additional actions, and other "potential targets" conform their behavior to avoid being a target. The more signatures the greater the impact!

M.A.R.S. Safe Haven Mission Statement:

To raise public awareness as to the plight many soldiers and their beloved companions face. To respectfully request policy changes that will reflect a more humane approach to securing the bonds between our service men and woman and the animals they come to love and care for under the most difficult of circumstances.

Most reading this petition were not even aware that these problems existed. Educating the public and sharing this with family and friends will go a long way in helping these soldiers and their animals. It encourages people to get involved and donate. Hopefully, one day no soldier will go through this again. History itself has shown us that public opinion can move mountains.

Here are some pictures of other puppies free from the war - thanks to Operation Baghdad Pups. These animals can make all the difference in a soldier's life.

Beatrice/Baghdad Pups
Abibi/Baghdad Pups

Chewey/Operation Baghdad Pups

More photos can be found at Operation Baghdad Pups website.

Operation Baghdad Pups also has a WISH LIST of items they regularly need when bringing dogs and cats home from Iraq and Afghanistan to the United States. These items help reduce the overall cost per animal and allow Operation Baghdad Pups to help more animals.

If you can donate items, please email answers@spcaquestions.com

Things like red or blue adjustable collars and leashes, house training pads to line transport crates, approved airline crates, etc. Please visit their site for a complete list of items they need. Thank you...

Want to see how much animals mean to our troops? WATCH

Operation Baghdad Pup dedication video:

Here's a video of another soldier's struggle to get their dog out of Iraq:

Soldier's homecoming with his dogs


Washington, DC October 13, 2008 SPCA International will send Terri Crisp, Operation Baghdad Pups program manager, back into the Iraq war zone for an emergency rescue attempt this week.

SPCA International is taking this drastic step with the hope that congressional appeals and extensive public outrage around the confiscation of Sgt. Gwen Beberg's dog, Ratchet, will move the military to release Ratchet into SPCA International custody on Wednesday, October 15. SPCA International refuses to take no for an answer in the fight to save Ratchet. Sgt. Beberg deserves to save the dog that saved her life. More than 11,000 signatures have been collected in support of Ratchet and Sgt. Beberg.

Operation Baghdad Pups is a SPCA International (www.spca.com/) program created to provide medical care, clearance and transport for the animals U.S. soldiers have come to love during deployment in the Middle East.

Terri Crisp, Operation Baghdad Pups program manager and Patricia Beberg, mother of U.S. Sgt. Gwen Beberg, are available for interviews. Larry Garrison, President of SilverCreek Entertainment, is handling all public relations for SPCA International.

M.A.R.S. Safe Haven is a division of M.A.R.S. Productions/Mason, Ohio
Contact: tms@marsproductions.net

This petition was created on Tue, October 7, 2008 11:46 pm

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