Smoke the donkey, MLG mascot, cleared to enter Turkey

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Turkish authorities have granted Smoke the donkey, the former mascot for 1st Marine Logistics Group in Iraq, permission to enter Turkey at the Habur Gate checkpoint in northern Iraq.

Smoke’s former guardian, Col. John Folsom, has been fighting to bring Smoke home since October, but has run into one problem after another. First, he had to convince an Iraqi sheik to lower the $30,000 price tag arbitrarily put on the donkey. Then Smoke had to be wrangled and sent to Arbil from Fallujah. Finally, Folsom and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International had to lobby Turkish officials to allow Smoke to enter the country.

But finally, after weeks of negotiations, Turkey’s minister of agriculture has agreed to give Smoke safe passage on his way to the United States.

Smoke became 1st MLG’s mascot after a sergeant caught him roaming the Camp Taqaddum, just outside of fallujah, and tied him up outside Folsom’s tent. Folsom was the camp commandant at the time. Marines, who named him for his grey color and his affinity for cigarettes, were able to skirt regulations barring troops from keeping pets in a warzone after a Navy lieutenant supported designating him a therapy animal.

Marines were forced to abandon their beloved Iraqi-born mascot when they withdrew from Camp Taqaddum, near Fallujah, more than two years ago. But with the help of the SPCAI’s “Operation Baghdad Pups,” Smoke will soon be living in Nebraska where Folsom hopes Smoke can work at Wounded Warrior Family Support as a therapy animal for children. The non-profit organization, founded by Folsom, works to help the families of killed and wounded service members.

Smoke was originally slated for arrival in the United States in January. His exact date of arrival remains uncertain as he may have to pass through other countries and transit the Atlantic by plane as part of a special cargo delivery.

For the most recent updates on Smoke’s status check out his Facebook page with almost 200 followers.

Marines were forced to abandon their beloved Iraqi-born mascot when they withdrew from Camp Taqaddum, near Fallujah, more than two years ago. But the camp’s former commandant, retired Col. John Folsom, has been on a quest since October to bring the donkey to Nebraska.

With the help of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International’s “Operation Baghdad Pups,” Smoke, as of Jan. 19, was waiting to hop a flight out of Arbil, Iraq.

Smoke became 1st MLG’s mascot after a sergeant caught him roaming the base and tied him up outside Folsom’s tent. Marines, who named him for his grey color and his affinity for cigarettes, were able to skirt regulations barring troops from keeping pets in a warzone after a Navy lieutenant supported designating him a therapy animal.

Tracking Smoke down proved challenging. A local sheik who works with U.S. forces said Smoke was in possession of a family who asked for $30,000 for the animal. Folsom scoffed at the amount, and the sheik eventually agreed to obtain the animal free of charge.

Folsom hopes Smoke can work at Wounded Warrior Family Support as a therapy animal for children. The non-profit organization, founded by Folsom, works to help the families of killed and wounded service members.

Smoke the donkey, the former mascot for 1st Marine Logistics Group in Iraq, could be in the U.S. by the end of January.

Marines were forced to abandon their beloved Iraqi-born mascot when they withdrew from Camp Taqaddum, near Fallujah, more than two years ago. But the camp’s former commandant, retired Col. John Folsom, has been on a quest since October to bring the donkey to Nebraska.

With the help of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International’s “Operation Baghdad Pups,” Smoke, as of Jan. 19, was waiting to hop a flight out of Arbil, Iraq.

Smoke became 1st MLG’s mascot after a sergeant caught him roaming the base and tied him up outside Folsom’s tent. Marines, who named him for his grey color and his affinity for cigarettes, were able to skirt regulations barring troops from keeping pets in a warzone after a Navy lieutenant supported designating him a therapy animal.

Tracking Smoke down proved challenging. A local sheik who works with U.S. forces said Smoke was in possession of a family who asked for $30,000 for the animal. Folsom scoffed at the amount, and the sheik eventually agreed to obtain the animal free of charge.

Folsom hopes Smoke can work at Wounded Warrior Family Support as a therapy animal for children. The non-profit organization, founded by Folsom, works to help the families of killed and wounded service members.

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2 Comments

  1. Great story!! Although this article is written like a broken record. I hope he makes it to the U.S.. Inside every Iraqi donkey is a American donkey trying to get out.

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