Shelter Tails: Iraq Dog Begins New Life In Middletown

By Mary Esparra
For the Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 07/09/10

MIDDLETOWN — It had been a couple of months since Spc. Theodore Fotopoulos had seen his puppy, Maddy.

“The first thing she recognized was the uniform,” said Fotopoulos, “and then she ran right to me.”

Thanks to Record readers’ donations to the SPCA International’s Operation Baghdad Pups program, Maddy has begun a new life at Fotopoulos’ home in Middletown.

Fotopoulos adopted puppy Maddy in Iraq, while stationed there with the 206th Military Police Company’s New York State Army National Guard Unit. While already taking care of three other stray dogs, his unit took in Maddy and her siblings when Iraqi policemen handed them over in a potato sack.

It wasn’t easy caring for dogs in a country that has no canine population control, no spay/neuter programs, no humane societies and no dog food.

“There are dogs just roaming the streets, all hours of the day, with no home or anything,” said Fotopoulos. “The Iraqis don’t like dogs; most of them are afraid of them. They shoot them.”

The soldiers took turns watching over their dogs, protecting them from the unthinkable.

“An Iraqi general threatened to shoot all the… Continue reading

Shelter Tails: Money Raised To Bring Dogs Home from Iraq

By Mary Esparra
For the Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 04/02/10

Wow. When I wrote the March 12 Shelter Tails, “Troops hope to bring canine pals home from Iraq,” I prayed I would have an update to this great story soon. I never dreamed it would bring tears to my eyes.

The story told of Spc. Theodore Fotopoulis of Middletown and his New York state Army National Guard Unit, the 206th Military Police Company, stationed in Iraq. They had befriended and cared for some puppies and dogs who in turn boosted their morale, giving them a sense of home. The soldiers wanted to return the favor, so they adopted the canines.

With help from Operation Baghdad Pups, a campaign was set in motion to help bring the pups here by the time the unit comes home in June. With $4,000 raised at that point, they needed about $4,000 more to cover the cost of crates and transportation.

Free Training

The day after this story ran in Shelter Tails, I received a generous offer from Shari Forst, a canine behaviorist and trainer of Canine Case Squad Inc. in Orange County.

“When they do get the dogs back here, we will… Continue reading

Shelter Tails: Three Dogs, Three Heartwarming Stories

By Mary Esparra
For the Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 03/27/09

In three short days, 1-year-old Nicolette went from being a stray dog with an agonizing broken leg to recovering from expensive surgery and the hope of finding a loving home. A chain reaction of caring people sprang into action the morning of March 7 after Mamakating Dog Control brought the pit bull mix to the Sullivan County SPCA.

“She came to us with a set of X-rays which showed a displaced fracture of the right hind femur,” said shelter Vice President Manon Fortier. “A displaced fracture is one where the two ends of the broken bone don’t meet, and in Nicolette’s case, they didn’t appear to even be in the same ZIP code!

“Despite her injury, Nicolette was gentle, happy and a real tail wagger. We knew we had to give her a chance.”

By the end of the day, fliers were being distributed to solicit donations to cover the cost of Nicolette’s surgery.

A shelter board member remembered a recent Shelter Tails about a dog with a similar injury being treated by the Veterinary Specialty Center of the Hudson Valley at a discount.

It was late Saturday,… Continue reading

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