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Rescued from war

10:43 AM, Jun 17, 2011   |    comments
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Air Force Captain Kirsten Ellis and Fatoon, one of 8 dogs she rescued from an Iraqi airfield. (Courtesy Sarah Hartley)

DUNWOODY, Ga. -- Marion Ellis and her husband Randy sit in the living room of their Dunwoody home. Their family is no stranger to service. Randy Ellis retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Army. Their daughter is Air Force Captain Kirsten Ellis, stationed in Iraq to train members of the Iraqi airforce.

"Having her in Iraq has been so tough for me," Marion said. "Everytime you hear another car bomb that went off or there's suicide bombing, you just take a deep breath and, you know, hope that she's protected and safe."

Kirsten had the safety of a litter others on her mind. A professed animal lover with three dogs of her own at home, she recently rescued a dog, Fatoon, and her seven puppies, who had been wandering near an Iraqi airfield.  

"There was no way I could leave them here, I knew they didn't have anywhere to go. If they stayed they'd be shot," Kirsten said via Skype. "I had no choice; I had to rescue those guys." 

So Kirsten reached out to Operation Baghdad Pups and started a website to raise $5000 to get the dogs rescued and flown out of the country, a tough undertaking in an area not known for kindness towards strays.

"Kirsten has always been a 'Go head, give me something tough to do and I'll do it,'" her dad Randy said.  

Five of the puppies got sick and died. But Fatoon and two of her puppies made it out, and she and one of those pups named Ellis was flown to the Peachtree DeKalb Airport.

"I'm so excited, I cannot wait that it's finally here," said the Ellis' neighbor Vicki Morris. She and her partner will be Fatoon's parents. She already has a sister, beloved family dog Stella.

"Stella needs a playmate," Vicki said. "She's kind of been depressed lately because we had a big white cat Jake that passed away early this year."

Vicki hopes Fatoon, neglected for all her life, realizes "This is going to be her forever home."

At the airport, Ellis the puppy comes out first to a crowded waiting room before heading to the Blue Ridge Humane Society. 

A group of women take turns holding the golden haired pup with big brown eyes, her legs hang over one woman's shoulders as she looks about, calmly taking in her surroundings.

"Isn't that awesome?" Kirsten's sister Sarah Hartley makes sure Kirsten is there, skyping the happy chaos on her iPhone. "Do you want to go see the puppy? Let's go see the puppy,"

The ladies from the Blue Ridge Humane Society wave to Kirsten saying, "Everything happened great. I can't wait to meet you!"

Then comes Fatoon. She is tall and thin with gold and gray fur and ears that stand up. Vicki and her partner sit with her on the floor of the waiting room getting to know one another.

"This is our baby," Vicki said. 

It is a promising start. Fatoon's tail is wagging.

"She's beautiful, and she's now home forever," Vicki said. "I think she's kind of happy too."

Randy and Marion Ellis are still waiting for a safe return of their own child, with a powerful reminder of her strength and unwillingness to give up on others, even others with fur. 














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