Hulshof joins cause of soldier, Iraqi dog

He offers to cut through red tape to bring the military mascot to Fulton.
Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:23 a.m. CDT, Monday, June 30, 2008

It’s not every day that a U.S. congressman’s schedule includes helping get a puppy out of Iraq, but that’s what Kenny Hulshof is offering to do.

The puppy, a black-and-white mutt named Niki, belongs to Army Pfc. Jeremiah Smith. Stationed in Baghdad, Smith and his company befriended Niki when she was found starving at the gate to their base.

With military officials unwilling to fly Niki home, Smith and his father, Don, both natives of Fulton, have been struggling with restrictions and vaccinations to get the dog into the United States.

Smith and his father have been in contact with the congressman’s office, and Hulshof, R-Columbia, has offered to help cut through the “bureaucratic red tape.”

“We’re willing to help any way we can,” said Scott Baker, a spokesman for Hulshof.

Along with Hulshof, Military Mascots, a group that specializes in helping soldiers bring home their animals, is aiding in Niki’s departure.

Military Mascots is taking donations for Niki’s trip on its Web site and has put Smith in contact with people in Iraq who can get the dog out through Kuwait.

“I just sent over a pet taxi the other day,” Don Smith said.

The carrier should reach Jeremiah Smith in two weeks.

“That gives us time to raise the funds,” Don Smith said.

Don and Jeremiah Smith are asking for help in raising more than $1,000 to bring Niki home.

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