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Soldier Launches Food Drive for Iraq Dogs
Just before the New Year, Army Reserve Capt. Gabriella Cook sent an urgent e-mail from Iraq requesting food shipments. Not for her or her unit - for Iraqi police dogs.
``The dogs are starving and urgently need dry dog food,'' Cook wrote in a Dec. 28 e-mail that said the Iraqi Interior Ministry's only bomb-sniffing police dogs were eating table scraps and garbage.
The response to the canine crisis has been overwhelming: Offers of help poured in from New Hampshire, Florida, Texas, Ohio and New York. One sports gambling handicapper alone ponied up $5,000.
The Las Vegas Valley Humane Society is now trying to find a way to ship pallets of dry dog food to Iraq to feed the 12 undernourished German shepherds and one black Labrador retriever at the Iraqi Police Academy.
The Nevada effort appeared to be unique, said Stephanie Shain, spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States in Washington. She said the national organization was contacting officials on Capitol Hill about Cook's account.
The appeal to help feed the Iraqi dogs also has a human benefit. After all, having healthy Iraqi bomb-sniffing dogs translates into safer U.S. troops.
``If one dog smells one bomb and saves a platoon's life, it's worth it,'' Terry Muratore, a veterinarian who looks after Cook's pets, told The Associated Press.
Muratore said his telephone started ringing with offers of help after he was first quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal about Cook's request to ``please send all the dog food you can.''
In Baghdad, military spokesman Staff Sgt. Don Dees said the care of Iraqi police dogs was separate from U.S. military working dogs, which he said were well-fed.
``Each dog handler deploys with their dog and 180 days of rations,'' Dees said of U.S. canine teams. ``The MPs tell me sometimes the dogs eat better than the handlers.''
Stephan Bognar, a field agent with WildAid, a San Francisco-based animal welfare group, said he was not surprised by the report that Iraqi dogs were going hungry in Baghdad.
``Dogs were a problem, even at the zoo,'' said Bognar, who helped rebuild the Baghdad Zoo after coalition forces entered the city in 2003. The zoo lost 600 animals to theft, escape or death, Bognar said.
Cook, a Las Vegas police officer, is commander of the Las Vegas-based 313th Military Police Detachment. The unit arrived in Baghdad in mid-December to train Iraqi police, including officers with bomb-sniffing dogs.
Cook's friend Diana Paivanas said Thursday that she has heard twice by e-mail from Cook, who was excited by the stateside response.
``That is so wonderful,'' Cook wrote in an e-mail thanking Paivanas. ``P.S. the Iraqi bomb dogs helped us Americans to sniff out a building.''
On the Net:
Las Vegas Valley Humane Society: http://www.lvvhumane.org“I made some mistakes tonight but we sing and play our f***ing instruments. Accept no substitute “ Tom Petty at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center July 3, 2002
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