by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals.


I’m going to deviate from our regular celebrity-infused news to bring attention to this incredibly sad and distrubing story. Apparently, there is an organization called Baghdad Pups that provides medical attention, clearance and transport for the animals U.S. soldiers have come to love during deployment in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the US Military has intervened in their rescue operations and is now threatening to kill one the beloved pups named Ratchet. Here’s a bit from the SPCA press release,

Today, the United States military committed a crime against their own mentally wounded U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq. Commanding officers ordered the confiscation of a dog, Ratchet, befriended by a group of soldiers during a 15th month of deployment. Ratchet has been a lifeline to Sgt. Gwen Beberg. This morning, Ratchet was on his way to SPCA International rescue experts at the Baghdad Airport to be flown home to Gwen’s parents in Minneapolis, MN when Sgt. Beberg’s commanding officers ordered Ratchet confiscated and held in Iraq to face certain death.

It is against military regulations for active duty troops to befriend animals – Soldiers can face immediate court-marshal and some even see their animals brutally murdered by a direct gunshot to the head from commanding officers who will not bend the rules. 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).

We here at Ecorazzi find this abhorrent and ask that everyone spread the new about Ratchet and the efforts of Baghdad Pups to bring animals like him home. Please check out more information on this story here — including a bit more behind-the-scenes photos and personal reactions.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • The Science Commenter

    It’s been shown that pets do wonderful things for health-including lowering blood pressure and reducing depression-all of which I’m sure the troops have their fair share of.

    It’s no wonder the military has decided to do this. They aren’t exactly known for being the most educated and intelligent people when it comes to protecting the mental health of those who sign their life away to protect their country.

    And right at the helm of them is George W. Dysfuckist Bush.

    This story has been Dugged a lot over the past 11 hours. I say people should spread the word, protest, and do whatever they can to shame the people who have this policy in place. Many of times, dumbasses will only bend when they are humiliated.

  • John

    That’s shocking! I really hope this reaches out into the public and the media before it is too late.

  • shannon

    This is sick. WTF???? I mean,…I’m just at a loss for words. There is NO reason to kill that animal (or any of those animals).

  • Cid

    Why are you so surprised by this?
    I mean, only you Americans think of soldiers as heroes and freedom defenders or something…

    A soldier is someone who kills, period! And don’t give me that crap of soldiers going into battle to save freedom and democracy.
    Damn, you have been so brainwashed you don’t even realize the paradox! Soldiers, whether they are American or otherwise, are people who kill other people…no matter if they are the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ guys – to you, your soldiers are freedom keepers, to the people of the countries you invaded, your soldiers are murderers. So, who is right? Probably both sides, or probably neither!

    Now imagine a world with no soldiers… obviously there would be no wars! So, who makes wars (I’m not even going to discuss the motives)? Soldiers do! Therefore make your own conclusions!

    We have so much to evolve as a species that we can’t even conceive a world without soldiers!

  • Cid

    Right, I forgot… so killing an animal, for them, is a piece of cake!!!

    Yeah, disgusting… So is war and soldiers!!! All of them!

  • windy

    this is an outrage. wtf!!!!

  • erin

    Dearest Cid Martins,

    You know I love your posts, but I resent being called one of “You Americans” I was born in the US. All american looking girl, as American as Apple pie. Go back for generations. BUT i must say i do not agree with this war, never did, am not brainwashed by the military or the government. I have been protesting wars since the first stupid Bush in the first stupid Gulf War when I was barely in my teens.

    Just understand we Americans aren’t ALL brainwashed. Sadly many of my friends are. Even the smart ones who are Democrats and don’t think we should pull out right away (or necessarily at all)

    But I do have friends who are on my side, on your side. We’re not all bad ;)


  • erin

    Oh and let me add that I am disgusted by the fact that the us military would A) keep the poor girl there longer than she was supposed to be in a stupid useless war and B) deprive her of taking her dog home.

    I am embarrassed by what my country’s military has done in this situation. it is awful and they should be ASHAMED of themselves.

  • Cid

    Dear Erin,

    I truly apologise if I offended you or any American who is anti-war and who isn’t brainwashed by all that talk about soldiers going to war to defend freedom and democracy, and yada, yada, yada… :(

    Unfortunately the image the rest of the world (or at least most of it) gets is that the majority of the American people see its soldiers as unconditional heroes who are fighting for freedom and democracy all over the world, when in fact they are only protecting American interests, regardless of the consequences!
    I mean, look at the presidential debates – war, war, war is the main issue! Our veterans, heroes…etc.

    I admit that my use of words can be interpreted as a complete generalization of the American people and it was wrong, I’m sorry.

    Europe had a lot to thank your military back in the WW 2 when they helped the Europeans beat the nazis, but those days are long gone, and since then the US military forces have only been screwing up over and over again!!

    Don’t get me wrong, in spite of everything I love the USA… I would love to live there one day! Don’t ask me why, I just do! Probably I lived there in one of my previous lives. :)

    That is why it makes me especially mad to see SOME Americans destroy that country along with the American dream!
    It also makes me furious to read the news and realise that the choice between maccain and Obama is still an issue. Come on! Obama isn’t perfect nor he is the saviour of the USA, but he beats maccain and palin (a creationist for crying out loud!) any time!

    And for instance, I just heard on the news today that the government of Iceland (the 5th or 6th richest country in the world) is probably facing bankruptcy. All because of the financial crisis triggered in the US. And whose fault is it? bush’s, obviously… And who elected him twice? You see where I’m getting at?
    The American people have no idea how your image abroad is completely trashed! And it makes me very sad, believe me!

    This is such a big issue because ‘you’ as a nation are always saying you want to lead the world. The problem is that when the leader leads his/her followers into the abyss he/she has to expect a reaction from those who have been blindly following him/her for so long. Leading the way is not only perks, it also means responsibility, taking the blame for the errors and clean up the mess… instead of making wars!

    You Erin are obviously an intelligent woman and you probably realize that the US only suffered 9/11 because of the abuses of the American military forces and because of the disastrous policies of bush and his administration! So, the American people instead of calling the military forces heroes, maybe you should question the honesty and values of your generals. Someone is only attacked if in some way has attacked others first.

    And like I have mentioned before, as long as you are playing the role of the ‘leader’ of the ‘free’ world, what happens in the USA it’s the rest of the world’s concern too! It’s just the way it is!

    To end this very long post (I’m so sorry), my choice of words wasn’t the best one and for that I apologise, again.

    sorry Erin… :)

  • jamie lynn

    dearest Cid,

    my husband is an american soldier, and he has never killed anyone. just as it is wrong to jump the gun and label all americans in the same fashion, it is wrong of you to assume that all people who serve our country are bloodthirsty automaton trigger-fingers. not everyone finds our leaders to be infallible, and that includes those in the ranks and those of us who see them off overseas. you may want to rethink your overuse of generalisations out a bit more thoroughly next time you feel like ranting on the internet–you may be underestimating your audience.

  • matt

    A good friend of mine went to Iraq twice in the marines. On his first tour over there, they adopted a couple of stray dogs. And before they came home, they were forced to shoot both the dogs.

  • erin


    I will write more tomorrow as it’s quite late here. I didn’t vote for George Bush. I voted for Al Gore and Kerry. I did make sure to vote in both elections, but alas my vote did not count. Gore won the first election. And I’m here in Florida no less. More on the whole subject manana but there are others out there like me (and you) right here in the US of A.

    I am torn at times as I love this land here that I’ve watched Bush (and others destroy) I do love America. I do love her but that doesn’t mean I love the government or what the people have done to her…. More soon


  • fbr

    Cid, it’s not only Americans who see soldiers as heroes. It is a profession where the men and women put their lives on the line. They do this for the people like you and me who vote and elect the government that controls the military. For this they are unconditional heroes regardless of whether or not you happen to agree with the missions that the government sends them to.

    To think that there would be no wars if there were no soldiers is absurd. Conflicts have always existed between groups of people, and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t in the future. It doesn’t take an organized military to commit violence when these conflicts boil over. In fact, it would be irresponsible not the have the capability to protect yourself and your people in the face of aggression.

    Another absurd comment is to blame the current financial shock on Bush. The policies under his administration might have played a part in creating the conditions, but it is simply not possible for one man to create the whole mess. In particular the collapse of the Icelandic banking sector had nothing to do with Bush. It was created by the bankers in Iceland who massively over-leveraged their positions. The value of their positions was tens or hundreds of times the GDP of Iceland. It was well known before the the current problems that the Icelandic banking industry was not sustainable and would collapse when the next market shock came. Like you said, they were in the top ten “richest” countries as measured by GDP per capita, but this was all an illusion created by the banking industry bubble.

  • fbr

    Cid, forgot to add one bit. Think about this assertion of yours:

    “Someone is only attacked if in some way has attacked others first.”

    Do you not see the logical fallacy here?

  • VeggieTart

    Cid, while I am thoroughly disgusted by this clusterf*ck in Iraq and opposed it from the start, I am blaming the architects of this war and those who profit from it, not the men and women sent into a meatgrinder to fight for–what?

    Let’s remember that the soldiers there were ORDERED to go. Yes, they chose to join the military, but there are two theories here as to why: 1) they wanted to serve their country (whatever that means) and/or 2) they were poor and needed the money/housing/alleged benefits promised by stalkeresque recruiters.

    Soldiers befriending stray animals puts a human face on men and women stuck in a brutal situation I can barely comprehend–as I haven’t been there–and the commanders evidently can’t have anything humanizing their fighting units. I think some people forget that they have humans and not machines fighting.

    And if I’m not careful, I might start tying the war industry to the meat industry where lives are seen as expendable units of production.

    It took an act of Congress for a severely wounded woman to be able to adopt her bomb-sniffing dog before his retirement age; it may take another to allow soldiers to bring home dogs they befriend in Iraq.

  • Chrissy

    Thanks for bringing attention to this. I passed it along and my mom decided to send it to CNN.

  • Katie Konrath

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing about Ratchet’s plight! He is getting a lot of attention and we’re really hoping that it will be enough to save him.

    Unfortunately, the last chance he has to leave Iraq is early next week and the military needs to issue an official order to release him. (So we’re still very worried.)

    If anyone is interested, I posted an update on Ratchet’s situation and some specific things people can do to help him. It’s at:

    If you have some time, we’d really appreciate a little more help. Thank you so much!

    ~Katie (Gwen’s friend)

  • Cid

    Okay, please allow me to address the controversy my comment created :(

    ERIN, sweetie (and I am not using this word in any patronising way, on the contrary, it’s one of my favourite English words and I only use it with a positive connotation – I hope you don’t mind), I am deeply sorry for the resentment I caused you.

    jamie lynn:
    How can I put this without offending you or your family? Soldiers eventually end up killing, whether they like it or not! There are probably soldiers who are better persons than me! Nevertheless, as far as I know, your soldiers are professionals and thus they apply for that job. Nobody forces them!
    They have to follow orders whatever they may be – this includes killing those animals!!
    And when I generalise (particularly you regarding your soldiers as heroes), I don’t mean that each and every American sees their soldiers as heroes, but in general you do! That is a fact! I am constantly watching and reading all that talk about “our soldiers, the heroes who fight for freedom and democracy,” etc. But let me stress that that’s your point of view. But it’s not necessarily the rest of the world’s point of view!
    In spite of everything I sincerely hope your husband will never have to kill another living creature and I hope nothing bad will ever happen to him!

    I have ‘argued’ with you before and, as always, you have never been able, or never wanted, to really understand what I write here!
    I know that the Americans are not the only ones who regard their soldiers as heroes, although you overdo with their appraisement as no other culture does. However this piece of news mentions the US military and that’s what I focused on…
    Soldiers, apart from the UN peacekeeping forces, are not protecting you, me nor anyone else – instead, they protect the interests of big corporations and governments. Therefore I owe soldiers absolutely nothing !!! Do you see any military forces doing something to solve the situation in Tibet, Darfur (even though the UN is involved at some level) and in so many other places? No, you don’t see entire armies there because corporations and governments have no interests there to protect!
    Regarding the fact that we can’t even conceive a world without soldiers and wars, it says a lot about us as a species – we have the technology but we don’t have the wisdom and the level of evolution required to live in peace. That is why a song like ‘Imagine’ is still, unfortunately, seen as a utopia!
    About conflicts between people – that’s why we have the police… Common people all over the world just want to live their lives in peace! It’s the big corporations and governments who make wars and that’s why the military forces serve really under their command!!! You don’t believe the entire population of a country all of a sudden rises up and decides to attack a neighbouring country, do you? Just one example, I once saw a documentary about oil companies in Nigeria – did you know that the major company (I think it was Shell) exploiting oil there, ‘controlled’ the government and the military and even told them to repress any protest made by local people? Local villagers who protested were usually taken prisoners and one of the leaders was actually tortured or murdered (which one it was I don’t remember for sure)! These were not rebels, they were common people protesting against the destruction of their environment, their villages and their way of life by the oil companies!
    When I mentioned that the financial crisis was bush’s fault, I didn’t mean he did it all by himself…Come on! You are a not a 12 year old! Read between the lines! Nonetheless, who is in charge of your country? Who is the commander in chief?
    The beginning of this financial collapse was triggered in the US and you know it! Do you have any idea how multinationals spread their businesses? They are like ‘cancers’! They are everywhere, so if one major corporation falls, others follow…
    “Someone is only attacked if in some way has attacked others first.” – do I have to spell everything out for you? Damn…this is tiresome… It’s no fallacy! What I meant was that a nation only suffers a retaliation if somehow it has first attacked the one who retaliated! Why do you think 9/11 happened? Because of the US military and your government! The US administration has manipulated for years elections in several countries! Who put saddam hussein in power, for instance? Recently, who incited Georgia to attack South Ossetia? Russia only entered Georgian territory to make a stand against the US decision of placing a missile defence system in Poland! How naive can you be? Things eventually come around…!
    In case you don’t know, Europe doesn’t really have enemies and wasn’t afraid of attacks before 9/11! Recent terrorist attacks only happened after we joined you in the invasion of Iraq. Up until then we were ‘completely’ safe!
    Your image abroad is now the worst ever! Most of the rest of the world sees America not as a friend, but as a bully which is dangerous to be friends with!
    And by the way, I have never been into the conspiracy theories, but yesterday I watched something that if it’s true is very alarming.
    As I am in no position to make a valid judgement about it, I leave here the link and you can judge by yourself whether this could be true or if it’s just an absurdity. Either way it is worth watching – if it’s real then you are in deep s***; if it’s not, it’s ‘interesting’ to watch!

    I also mostly blame the generals, governments and big corporations for the war. However soldiers in most of the cases chose to be soldiers! And when they do exactly what they are told, no matter what, they do become soulless fighting machines. A very sad example of this is the images of what US (mainly) and other nation’s soldiers did to prisoners in Iraq!! I don’t mean by this that all soldiers are monsters but I wouldn’t trust them very much. After a while, the things they have done in war affect them beyond our wildest imagination! I once met a former mercenary (true!) and before I knew who he had been, I considered him to be a peaceful and gentle person although he had very a strange behaviour! As time went by, after I was told what he had done in his life, I understood his behaviour! He now spent whole days drinking and smoking at a bar and he was obviously a tortured, delusional human being! Ironically he died suffocated by a piece of food!

    So, I think I got a pretty good idea of what war does to a person!

    All of this to state that I maintain my position:
    – soldiers are no heroes!
    – the US has sadly become a bully!
    – bush, his administration and the corporations he protects have seriously ‘damaged’ the world!
    – furthermore, your military forces have ruined your economy and they will be the end of you (remember the Romans?)!
    – oh, and right now china owns your ‘ass’!

    And again I am no anti-American jerk – on the contrary, as I have stated before, I love the USA. And that’s what pisses me off when I see that great nation become zombified and manipulated by the media, the military, big corporations and ultimately, by your own administration!

    It’s very sad!

    Nevertheless, blessed be and I hope you can emerge again as a true beacon for the rest of the world!

    I am SO SORRY for this extended comment… thanks for your patience!

  • jamie lynn

    “That is a fact! I am constantly watching and reading all that talk about “our soldiers, the heroes who fight for freedom and democracy,” etc. But let me stress that that’s your point of view.”

    please cite your sources for this “fact”. if they are from political talking heads only, then i fail to see how that constitutes “fact” and does not merely fall into the category of opinion.

    also, you haven’t the slightest what my point of view is, personally. my initial post was only to point out to you that YOUR OPINION does NOT constitute fact, as you seem so convinced.

  • erin

    Ok Kids, I know this has gotten very heated- even among the regular ecorazzi readers and I don’t want anyone turning against each other. I have had relatives join the military who I have begged not to join because, ultimately, they may have to go to war and do something that many times they do not believe in. I don’t really have many friends in the military because I suppose my friends are all vegan hippies who hate war and fighting lol but let’s not forget the point why this thread was started! The dog!

    Maybe we cannot save all the lives lost in the war so far – the soldiers and civilians on all sides… but we can sign a petition to save a life of this dog.. and perhaps the life of the soldier who has spent 15 months in HELL! She was obviously young when she signed up and as the smart veggie tart pointed out – those recruiters can be stalker hawks when they come after these kids.

    bottom line sign the petition – hopefully she can AND her dog can get the hell out of that hell and come home to her parents.

  • fbr

    Cid, I am perfectly capable of understanding written English. If you “know that the Americans are not the only ones who regard their soldiers as heroes” then you shouldn’t write: “only you Americans think of soldiers as heroes”. Also, I am not an American as you seem to think – I am a European.

    You listed a bunch of examples where you disagree with how some governments have used their militaries. This does not make the people who decide to serve their country any less honorable.

    Yes the current financial chaos was triggered in the US, but no, Iceland wouldn’t be bankrupt today if they hadn’t massively over-leveraged their banking industry. That’s their fault alone. Furthermore, shocks like this happen from time to time completely unpredictably, it seems to be natural to the financial system. In the past we’ve had the tech bubble, Russian default, Asian crisis, South American defaults..

    It’s frightening how black and white issues like the Georgian conflict seem to be to you. Let me offer an alternative explanation: Historically Ossetians are a relatively independent people, only recently Russia decided to start giving them passports. This then gives Russia a convenient reason to meddle in the affairs of their neighbors. They feel the need to do this in order to secure their lines of energy export. Depending on who you listen to, the current military action started either because Georgians shelled Ossetian civilians, or because Ossetian separatists attacked Georgian forces who were forced to retaliate. It is precisely these types of complex conflicts that I meant in my last post. And “police” will certainly not be the solution as you seem to suggest.

    Finally this “someone is only attacked if in some way has attacked others first”. Then, by this same argument the “someone” who “attacked others first” only did so because they themselves were attacked previously. This can be extended indefinitely, and we can observe that since it’s not possible to have a “first attacker” then it would logically follow that there are no attacks in the world – which is clearly false.

    Your apparent attempt to clarify your false argument by stating: “what I meant was that a nation only suffers a retaliation if somehow it has first attacked the one who retaliated” is not very helpful. By definition one can only “retaliate” if one has been attacked first. Thus the argument is vacuous.

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  • Emily

    This is disgusting. I don’t care if you support the war or not, this is the grossest thing I’ve heard of.
    WHY can’t a soldier befriend a lonely stray dog? How is that harmful to their duties (for example)? I am angry.
    Innocent animals brutally killed?! Simply for bringing homesick soldiers small comfort? Animals have nothing to do with the war; if there is one reason for me to oppose the war in Iraq, and war in general, this would be it.

  • Wow

    Soldiers are disgusting?…… wow maybe you would like to go back in time(maybe a previous life as you say) when male soldiers protected you and all the other women from being raped and pillaged by invading armies. I bet you would have been begging to have some soldiers around you then. Just reading these comments disgust me, this is what women have become then we are in trouble, I guess thousands of years of feeding you and protecting weren’t enough because all us men are just Neanderthals that like to kill.

  • The Science Commenter

    I believe Emily said “this” is disgusting, not the soldiers. She was referring to the policy. I’m sure she, and many other women AND men are thankful for the protection of those who are serving our country.