Minnesota Army Sergeant wants her dog back

After days of holding their breath, animals lovers can exhale. The U.S. Military says Ratchet, the dog confiscated from an Army convoy by a U.S. officer on its way to the airport, is still alive. The military just conveniently didn't clear it fast enough to get it on the plane home.

When soldiers found a 4-week-old crying puppy in a pile of burning trash, Army Sgt. Gwen Beberg, 28, of Spring Lake Park, adopted the dog. She tried to send the pet home Oct. 1 with the help of Operation Baghdad Pups, but the dog was confiscated, stirring an uproar online.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International put out a press release saying the dog was likely to face certain death. City Pages blogged about the incident Oct. 7.

As word spread, the Internet whirled criticism against Defense Department rules that prohibit soldiers in U.S. Central Command from adopting pets while deployed.

News organizations followed the blogs as the story grew. On Monday Fox 9 posted this update.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison has written to the U.S. Army, asking it to review a case in which it took an adopted dog away from its owner serving in Iraq.

Today, the Strib announced that the dog was alive, but missing.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Cmdr. David Russell said in an e-mail that the dog was alive but that he could provide no other details or comment on the effort to bring it to the United States....

More than 30,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Army to let the puppy go home with Beberg -- a number that nearly tripled in a day as publicity over the case spread....

"I found no leash, no dog, no trace," Beberg said in a Friday e-mail to her parents. "I called to see if my first sergeant had ordered him moved, but he was not at the office and the sergeant who answered the phone didn't know anything. I don't know where my dog is right now, and I am completely distraught. Not only am I leaving, but I am leaving without getting to say goodbye.

And the most recent update from the Associated Press:

A rescue group left Baghdad without a puppy adopted by a Minnesota soldier, and blamed the U.S. military for not clearing the animal in time for the flight out Wednesday.

The military responded that it did not hold "Ratchet" the dog or order it to stay put at the U.S. military base.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International says the military finally agreed to clear Ratchet to leave the country. But that clearance came only 30 minutes before the flight out -- too late for the dog to make it.

The next rescue operation could come as soon as Sunday.

Army Sgt. Gwen Beberg, 28, of Minneapolis, who adopted Ratchet, plans to return to the U.S. next month.

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