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No Dog Left Behind

The Daring Rescue of Dozens of Overseas Dogs

August 25, 2023

Often, in times of conflict, street dogs find themselves caught in the fighting, fending for themselves or, for the lucky ones, getting help from kind strangers. Over the years, a few intrepid CIA officers have answered this call. Working through bureaucratic red tape, CIA officers have cared for and rescued dozens of homeless dogs overseas and found them loving homes in the United States. These are just a few of their stories.

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In 2011, one officer did not want to leave behind a recently adopted street dog, whom she had named based on where the pup was from in the Middle East, so we’ll just call her Middie (we have changed her name for her protection). Middie was the last surviving puppy of a litter and was seen hiding behind a boulder limping from an unknown injury. For weeks, officers fed and cared for Middie, until one decided to take her home with her to give Middie time to heal.

It wasn’t long before the officer became separated from Middie. The officer was in a nearby location but unable to get home to Middie. Fortunately, colleagues—out on another mission—were able to successfully retrieve Middie and reunite her with her foster mother. The officer was then able to navigate the bureaucracy of international dog rescue, sending Middie back to the U.S. with a colleague returning home. Middie was adopted by the officer’s brother and now lives a pampered lifestyle in New England.

Middie (name changed to protect her identity) rocking her red, white, and blue now that she’s made it to America!

The successful rescue—or what CIA officers might call “exfiltration”—of Middie motivated other officers to find ways to get the dogs they had come to know and love overseas back to the States. CIA officers routinely fed, played with, bathed, and cared for these dogs. The dogs were true companions during periods of great stress, particularly in areas where the security environment devolved.

Simba—named because of his lion-like appearance—patiently waiting to escort CIA officers.

Another officer’s journey to rescuing overseas pups came when she met Simba, the regal lion-like street dog who dutifully escorted officers to and from their vehicles and residences. Simba quickly won the hearts of everyone passing by and was often found loitering out front waiting for food and affection. The officer facilitated the rescue of Simba, who is currently enjoying his “retirement” with a family on the U.S. West Coast.

The same officer also discovered Peanut, who had just been born and abandoned by his mother. CIA officers pitched in to help care for the newborn by acquiring milk and bottles. During the day, officers carried Peanut to work in their gym bags and bottle fed and cared for him under their desks. Today he is living his best life in America’s heartland.  

Peanut being carried in a gym bag. It became harder and harder to hide Peanut as he grew; a plan needed to be hatched to get him out!

A local animal rescue organization in Virginia helped CIA officers with the logistics of moving dogs into the U.S. and caring for them until adopted. Officers helped ferry the dogs to the U.S., and return with empty crates to continue the rescue operations. However, the transport of these lucky dogs was not without its hiccups. On more than one occasion, officers’ dog rescue operations befuddled airport staff, drawing suspicion, and officers had to convince the airport workers that they were indeed not smuggling contraband by shipping dogs back home!

One rescued Middle Eastern street dog en route to the United States in March 2013.

Between just 2011 and 2013, CIA officers rescued nearly 30 street dogs. Several officers and their family members are proud parents of these loving dogs who live across the U.S.

Some of the rescued dogs living their best life in the U.S.

The teamwork, ingenuity, and resourcefulness of CIA officers abroad is emblematic of how the Agency operates: working together to get an activity accomplished.

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