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January 25, 2007

40 Acres and A War

President Bush defended his plan for Iraq in his State of the Union address this week. Part of that plan includes extending the deployment of soldiers currently serving in Iraq. Yesterday, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, led his colleagues in a vote against the president's plan.

Kody and Jessica Larson are living out these decisions and debates currently occurring in Washington. 

Kody is now in Iraq. He's an Army National Guard medic assigned to Minnesota's 134th Infantry. He was supposed to come home in the next few weeks, but the president's plan to place extra soldiers in Iraq means he now won't get home until the summer. His wife, Jessica, is struggling to manage their farm without him.

I mean it'd be one thing if it was 9 months, like when he went to Saudi Arabia. But it'll be 2 years when he comes home. That's a long time. That's a big chunk out of somebody's life.
- Jessica Larson

Jessica's responsibilities include a 40 acre farm, an old farm house, thirteen dogs, and a 3-hour commute to her night job.


President Bush recently signed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS). Under the act, states and local governments must add provisions to their disaster preparedness programs for households with pets or service animals in order to qualify for FEMA funds. 

The act was proposed and approved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

During the hurricane and afterwards, many pet owners were forced to leave their animals behind. The Louisiana SPCA estimates that 15,000 companion animals had to be rescued. Less than 20% have been returned to the owners who were forced to leave their pets behind. 

This is the story of one such animal, a dog named T'Mac, who was abandoned, eventually adopted by Sidney Sharp of Richmond, VA, and finally reunited with his original owner in New Orleans.

I wanted to share a quote with you.  I saw it at my vet's office, and this is one of the things that really helped me decide that that was the right thing to do. Something to the effect of: "There have been civilizations without horses.  And there have been civilizations without the wheel. But there has never been a civilization without dogs."  And when I thought of these people trying to rebuild their civilization - and I'm getting a little misty here - I just knew I had to take that dog back to his family.
- Sidney Sharp

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