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Iraqi puppy finds new home with Michigan family

By jim Published: June 16, 2009

GENOA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Life can be tough — and short — for dogs in Iraq, but one puppy has been given a chance to survive.

In a country where people fear the spread of disease because vaccinations are rare, strays like Laia are shot, poisoned or stoned.

The 5-month-old escaped such an end with the help of U.S. soldiers and on June 4 arrived in Genoa Township, about 35 miles northwest of Detroit, where she has been adopted by Colleen Deaven and her three children, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported Monday.

Deaven learned about the puppy from her husband, who works as an immigration and customs enforcement agent in Iraq.

Laia was a few weeks old when she was found by Army Maj. Steven Hutchison of Scottsdale, Ariz., and members of his unit. Although it violated rules, they kept the puppy until an officer ordered the soldiers to get rid of it.

She was released into the desert but retrieved 11 days later when the officer learned that a roadside bomb killed Hutchison on May 10.

"I am more than honored to take care of a fallen soldier's pet," Deaven told the newspaper. "I'm just touched by the whole story."

In Iraq, the "No. 1 pastime was throwing rocks at puppies, dogs and cats," said Terri Crisp, program manager for Operation Baghdad Pups for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International. "The Iraqi people, as a whole, have no regard for them whatsoever."

Families tell children to stay away from dogs, which might bite them and make them sick, she said.

The group has brought back 125 dogs and 21 cats. Crisp has flown on all 33 mission trips since 2008 to rescue dogs from Iraq.

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