The dogs of war & other animals in liberated Iraq
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2003:
BAGHDAD; CAMP PATRIOT, Kuwait–Mine-detecting dolphins and
war dogs were the nonhuman heroes of the U.S. liberation of Iraq from
It was an evolutionary homecoming of sorts. Fossils found in
Pakistan indicate that the common ancestors of dogs and dolphins may
have first differentiated in this very region circa 70 million years
Nine U.S. Navy dolphins were sent to the Persian Gulf from
San Diego. Makai, 33, and Tacoma, 22, performed briefly for news
media before patrolling the port of Umm Qasr, Oman with three
anonymous dolphins. Their team alternated shifts with Kahili, Kona,
Punani, and Jefe. Among them, they reportedly found 22 underwater
mines during their first two weeks of guarding Navy supply ships.
The U.S. Navy previously deployed six dolphins each to Cam
Ranh Bay in 1970 during the Vietnam War and off Bahrain in 1991
during the Persian Gulf War.
The German shepherds Ranny and Brit led the U.S. Army K-9
Corps into Tallil Air Base in Iraq. Handled by Staff Sergeant John
Logie and Sergeant Michael McDonald, their job was guarding Iraqi
Eight more dogs handled by Air Force Sergent Mark Evans
guarded the base perimeter. The dogs were given the only
air-conditioned tent at the base, noted Associated Press writer
Denis D. Gray.
U.S. and British troops on night sentry duty at Camp Fenway,
Iraq, began making friends with frightened street dogs almost
immediately, Charlie LeDuff of The New York Times indicated.
The Zulu Company 1st Battalion Royal Regiment Fusiliers
rescued and adopted a mother dog and five pups spotted by Fusilier
Jonathan West, 19, of Morpeth, Northumber-land, as the troops
swept into Basra.
U.S. Marine Corps Major Sherri Annan, 33, commander of the Direct
Support Company B, 6th Motor Transport Battalion, adopted a
“thick-furred, sheepdog/shepherd mix,” said Augusta Chronicle staff
writer Johnny Edwards. A Marine reserve call-up, Annan in civilian
life works for the Midland SPCA in Midland, Texas, Edwards wrote.
Hungry street dogs emerged as the shooting stopped to
scavenge human corpses, observed New York Times correspondent Alan
Feuer. Feuer did not mention any retaliation against the dogs.
Under Saddam Hussein, dogs were reputedly treated even more cruelly
than in most Islamic nations, where the advice of the Prophet
Mohammed that a prostitute should not be stoned if she has given
water to a dog was long since subsumed by the ancient fear of rabies.
BBC World Panorama viewers were reportedly horrified on April 7 by
video of Iraqi commandos-in-training killing dogs with their hands
But Iraqi exile Qassin Al-Ghiribawi, 37, now living in
Michigan, mentioned to New York Times reporter Danny Hakim that
along with killing his father and sister, killing dogs and cats was
among the crimes he held against the Saddam Hussein regime.
Some dogs held higher status under Saddam than others.
In Baghdad, Robert Fisk of The Independent observed that a
looter’s truck “loaded down with chairs also had the two white
hunting dogs who belonged to Saddam’s son Qusay tethered by two white
ropes, galloping beside the vehicle. Across the city,” Fisk added,
“I caught a glimpse of four of Saddam’s horses, including the white
stallion he had used in some presidential portraits, being loaded
onto a trailer.”
The once privileged companion animals of dead or fleeing
Ba’ath Party loyalists have fallen on hard times–like their humans.
“In perhaps a fitting metaphor for much of Iraq at the
moment,” Ian Fisher of The New York Times noted, “the doors of two
outdoor aviaries holding doves and parakeets at Trebil, on Iraq’s
frontier with Jordan, were wide open,” when he arrived, two days
behind U.S. tanks and one day after a frenzy of looting. “The birds
could have flown from their cages, but had not. And they had
nothing to eat,” Fisher continued.
They seemed to be safe from birds of prey, at least. Citing
observations by Turkish zoologists Mehmet Siki of the University of
Izmir and Ahmet Kilic of Diyarbakir University, Agence France-Presse
correspondent Pierre-Henry Deshayes reported on April 13 from Silopi,
Turkey, that “Despite the nickname given to hardliners in Washington
D.C., real hawks are not so tough. They are fleeing fighting in
Iraq by the hundreds to take refuge in neighboring Turkey.”
Said Siki, “This year [eagles, kites, and other birds of
prey] began their migration northward as soon as the war started in
March. An early migration means that they could mate earlier than
usual, or not at all, and that their nesting rhythms could be
thrown out” of coordination with the availability of fish, frogs,
and rodents as food sources.
Amid numerous dispatches from Iraq making some note of
animals during the U.S. drive on Baghdad, almost the only mention of
livestock was the suggestion by Natalie Pawelski of CNN that
journalists not “embedded” with U.S. troops should be called