Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Big thanks? Marines bring friend home

The saying "You watch my back, I'll watch yours" goes a long way with one group of Marines serving in Iraq. A donkey who helped their morale is now safe in the U.S. No amount of red tape or expense could keep them from bringing Smoke here. This community gets it -- right?
Smoke the Donkey should be in Omaha by the middle of the week after touring parts of the USA. He'll soon start his new job, providing comfort to veterans at Take Flight Farms. The Omaha nonprofit uses horses to provide equine therapy to military veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Military rules prohibit unit mascots, but a Navy shrink wrote a report attesting to the donkey's positive effect on morale of a group of Marines in the Anbar Province, and the animal was allowed to stay. He became a huge hit with the other Marines and soldiers on base.
The Associated Press spoke with retired Col. John Folsom about the big push to bring him from the USA. "Why do we spend billions of dollars of pet food in this country? Why do we do that?" Folsom said. "We love our animals. That's why."
We've written a lot about how animals help us in this community, including dogs that help soliders with post traumatic stress disorder. They can make a difference when no one else can, also helping children who have autism. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International helped bring Smoke here with generous donations to pay for transport and other expenses.

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