Are you a cat person? If so, this story will probably warm your heart, too. From the Associated Press, Bradley Brooks reports on the "Cat Lady of Baghdad." Her real name is Louise (no last name used for obvious reasons) and she is a former soldier. She is a security consultant in Baghdad. She's become a "one-woman animal rescue unit."
Three years ago, a cat named Simba was on a journey out of Iraq and into England for a new life. Along the way, the cat encountered a roadside bomb which almost destroyed the taxi en route to Kuwait. Then Simba hid under tarps in the back of a truck. Finally, to England and six months in a cage. Free at last.
"Some people buy flash cars, others flash clothes. But it's my animals that float my boat," said Louise. Since Simba's journey to freedom, Louise has sent four more cats and two dogs back to England. These rescues cost up to $3,500 per animal, which she pays for with donations and selling "her old stuff" on eBay. They are quarantined for six months in England.
Louise deals with the Iraqi bureaucracy, completes stacks of paperwork, calls officials, and has been known to burst into tears at the airport. She's a woman on a mission.
Simba, her first rescue out of the war zone, wandered onto a U.S. military base near Tikrit where she was working at the time. She asked an Iraqi co-worker going to Basra to take Simba to the border with Kuwait, and an English friend would be waiting for the cat.
Many dogs, cats and other small animals have been rescued by soldiers and foreigners. According to Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad in London, there is no organized group working in Iraq to rescue the animals.
Muslims believe dogs are unclean so Iraqis do not have pets. It is surprising to them seeing dogs and cats living in compounds of Western companies. Cats and dogs are seen on military bases.
Last January, a dog named Zeus was rescued for a flight to England by Louise. Iraqi security guards and maintenance workers were amused to see the Westerners sending Zeus off with lots of belly scratches and dog treats.
Special place in heaven, Louise, special place in heaven.