AR-News: (DE - US) Delaware family sends booties to Iraq's K-9s

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Tue Nov 4 11:44:27 EST 2003


 
Delaware family sends booties to Iraq's K-9s
Rescue dogs need protection for paws 
By MIKE BILLINGTON
Staff reporter
11/03/2003

Within minutes of last week's deadly attack on Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad, rescue dogs were at work searching for victims in the rubble of the ruined buildings, scrambling over broken bricks and metal spikes, picking their way through shards of glass from shattered windows. 

The work is hard on the dogs, especially on their feet. But thanks to the commander of the Delaware Army National Guard's 249th Engineer Detachment and his family, they no longer risk infection from cuts on their paws. 

The reason: They now have special leather booties to wear while they search for victims. 

The story begins in August, when terrorists blew up the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. 

Two rescue dogs named "Beef" and "Sugar," part of the Turkish Civil Defense Force unit stationed in Baghdad at the time, suffered numerous cuts on their feet after spending hours pawing through the wreckage for survivors. 

Two sergeants from another American unit tried to help the dogs by using old canvas tent material to make booties for them. That didn't work, however. When word of the dogs' plight reached the commanding officer of the Army's 493rd Engineer Group, he asked 249th commander Capt. John Fisher whether there was anything that he could do. 

Fisher got in touch with his wife, Jan, in Lewes and within 10 hours, she and his parents had shipped eight pairs of dog boots, two pull toys, two collars with American flag motifs and two large pork bones to Baghdad. 

"Beef," a German shepherd, and "Sugar," a golden retriever, enjoyed the bones the most, Fisher wrote to his wife. The Turkish Civil Defense Force handlers appreciated the booties even more. 

"Beef" and "Sugar" are back in Ankara now, but their Turkish handlers left the booties behind so they can be used by the dogs that replaced them. The pork bones, however, are long gone. 

Although they did the job in a hurry, finding leather booties for the two rescue dogs wasn't easy for the Fisher family. 

"John's mother and father started by calling all the pet stores in the area," Jan Fisher said. "They couldn't find any large leather booties for 'Beef' until they contacted a pet store in Salisbury (Md.). They raced from their home in Dagsboro to Salisbury to buy the booties and then immediately drove to meet me at the Christiana Mall." 

Fisher, meanwhile, had driven from Lewes to a pet store at the Concord Mall in Brandywine Hundred, where she bought medium-size booties for "Sugar." 

"We had to meet at the Christiana Mall so I could get the booties from them and then race to a shipping company so I could get the packages on a plane for Baghdad as fast as I could so the dogs wouldn't have to suffer any more than absolutely necessary," Fisher said. 

Her in-laws said they were glad to help. 

"It was a wild ride but we knew if we were going to get the booties to Jan in time, we had to get to the mall as fast as possible so she could make that day's shipment," her father-in-law, John Fisher, said. 

"Between our two families, we have six dogs and we love them all, so when John asked us to help those dogs that are involved in rescue work, we just couldn't say no," his wife Frances said. 

The cost of shipping the booties and other items to Baghdad was almost $300. 

"We were glad to pay it," Fisher said. "There could come a day when those dogs are searching for some of our soldiers and we want them to be as healthy as they can if that ever happens." 

Reach Mike Billington at 324-2771 or mbillington at delawareonline.com. 
 
Courtesy photo  
A member of the Turkish Civil Defense teases "Sugar" (left) and "Beef" with a bone, while Capt. John Fisher (foreground) and fellow U.S. soldiers look on. Fisher and his family back in Delaware were involved in getting the injured rescue dogs booties.  

 


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