A mission to rescue five stray puppies from Erbil, Iraq, has been going on since October.
It all started with Oumi, a 4-year-old stray Anatolian shepherd mix, who was rescued from Erbil, Iraq, through the combined effort of the Waitsfield-based shelterless dog rescue, For the Love of Dogs Vermont, and dog-loving United Nations worker and Erbil resident, Rose Guevremont.
Guevremont had been tracking and caring for Oumi for two years, when she decided it was time to help Oumi find a real home. After Guevremont and her spouse bought a home in Montgomery, Vermont, Guevremont decided to try her luck with Vermont-based dog rescues, hoping one of them would agree to transport Oumi from Iraq to Vermont. When For the Love of Dogs Vermont agreed to help Oumi find her forever home, Guevremont started arranging Oumi’s trip.
After transporting Oumi, Guevremont and Carole Moore made a plan to rescue her five puppies as well. Oumi is adjusting well to her new home on a farm in Roxbury, Vermont. However, her puppies have yet to arrive in the Green Mountain State.
“Arranging for the five puppies has been very challenging,” said Carole Moore of For the Love of Dogs Vermont. According to Moore, getting the puppies confirmed for a flight on Qatar Airlines took over 10 calls and “piles of paperwork.” Their flight from Erbil, Iraq, to Boston, Massachusetts, which is 22 hours long, lands on Friday, March 26.
With donations from three previous dog adopters, who donated 200,000 frequent flyer miles, For the Love of Dogs Vermont was able to buy plane tickets for the dogs, as well as for Guevremont and her husband.
“The puppies have been vetted by the one veterinarian in Erbil. Getting all five pups to the vet took all day,” said Moore, who explained that the puppies are currently being kept in a kennel.
Even finding kennel crates proved to be a challenge. One past dog adopter sent funds to For the Love of Dogs Vermont to buy crates for the puppies, but, according to Moore, “There are no pet stores in Erbil,” so Guevremont had to find crates on her own.
The next challenge in the journey will be to transport the 40-pound puppies to the airport. “No one has large cars or vans to transport them,” said Moore. “No one will help because they dislike dogs. It’s a real challenge.”
From Erbil, Guevremont is currently working with the airline and the ASPCA to find van transport for the dogs today, Thursday, March 25.
Tomorrow, Friday, March 26, Moore and another For the Love of Dogs volunteer will meet Guevremont and her husband at Boston Logan Airport. “We are renting a van, loading them up and driving back to Vermont once they clear customs,” said Moore.
As of now, four of the five puppies have already been adopted. “One puppy, Ina, we think has hip dysplasia, so she is going to a foster family until we can get her evaluated here in Vermont,” said Moore. “Once we know her diagnosis and treatment plan she will be up for adoption.”
Moore says that all the puppies are sweet and well socialized, but they will need time to decompress after their arrival. “They have lived in kennels and fenced areas. Leash walking and being inside a house will be all new to them. Adopters will have a lot of work with training them and patiently getting them acclimated to a home life,” said Moore. “This has been a very long, time-consuming, costly journey,” she added.
According to Moore, this has been the rescue’s toughest mission to date. “We thank all our volunteers who assisted in this mission. A huge thank you to the past adopters of For the Love of Dogs Vermont who donated frequent flyer miles and money to make this happen. And a huge thank you to Rose and John who cared so much to dedicate the last six months to Oumi and her puppies,” said Moore.
There are many more stray street dogs in Erbil, 300 of which are being kept in a city shelter with over 300 dogs, Moore said. “They have little chance of ever finding homes,” said Moore. Since March of 2020, For the Love of Dogs Vermont has adopted out 1,000 dogs from the U.S.