No pets allowed

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Soldiers in Iraq have been befriending puppies during their deployments and an agency has sprung up to help “repatriate” the critters here at home. Baghdad Pups has helped soldiers cut through some red tape to help them get their animal friends sent home when they are.

It doesn’t always work out. Last week, the New York Times reported, one of the animals sent home turned out to be rabid, but more often than not the effort results in a happy ending.

Not for a Minneapolis woman, according to a release from the SPCA, however.

Sgt. Gwen Beberg has been in Iraq 15 months longer than her original commitment, it said, where she befriended a dog named Ratchet.


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 dog was heading for Baghdad airport last week to be delivered to Sgt. Beberg’s parents in Minneapolis when military officers confiscated the dog. It’s illegal for military personnel to befriend pets, apparently.

“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,” explains Sgt. Beberg’s mother, Patricia Beberg, told the SPCA.

The group has urged a phone-calling campaign to Minnesota politicians in Congress. Given the worldwide attention from this article, Ratchet will probably be fine.