Saying Goodbye to a Brave Four-Legged Soldier

By Lori Kalef, Program Manager

It is with tremendous sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you that little Laurel, an adorable OBP: Worldwide puppy that was rescued last month from Iraq with a terrible eye injury, passed away. Our Iraqi team of veterinarian professionals and rescue experts did everything in their power to save Laurel and surrounded him with love as he left this world.

In April, Laurel was urgently picked up by our team in Iraq from a U.S. Naval Base. Many of you may recall Laurel’s story. He was rescued by an ex-infantryman named Nick Cooper was working at Camp Swift. Cooper found Laurel with a terrible and painful eye wound from a being caught in a fight between two adult dogs. Laurel was suffering from a complete retinal detachment when Nick found him, but that never stopped Laurel from wagging his tail and showing his gratitude. Nick took him in, fed him and gave him as much care as he possibly could in this remote area of the world. In order to get Laurel all the care he needed, the SPCAI team picked him up and transported him to Erbil, Iraq, to see a veterinarian and prepare for travel to the U.S. Along the way, little Laurel exemplified courage, determination, trust and puppy love.

Sadly, after receiving required vaccinations and much needed care for retinal detachment, Laurel began demonstrating symptoms of distemper[1], a serious disease that runs rampant amongst street dogs in this area of the world. Laurel was given round the clock supportive care and treatments, something that is not so readily available in Iraq, but his little body’s immune system shut down and Laurel crossed over the rainbow bridge.

Our entire team is devastated over Laurel’s untimely passing, but we take comfort knowing that he had the best treatment we could give him. Right up to the end he knew kindness from humans and experienced unconditional love and devotion thanks to Nick’s good heart.  

Laurel left this world with dignity and grace and I know that he will continue to inspire us, and you, to do our very best to prevent suffering and give more animals a chance to live a good life in this often cruel and challenging world.



[1] Canine distemper is a contagious disease brought on by a virus that attacks the nervous, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems. Infection can occur through airborne exposure, shared food or water, or transplacental transmission. Puppies under four months of age and unvaccinated dogs are at risk for this disease. The vaccine series increases the probability of puppies building immunity while the immune system continues to mature. There is no cure for distemper and it is often fatal. Treatment consists of support care, and prevention of secondary infection. Learn more from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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