Video: Lebanon's dogs of war

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 11/22/2006 8:08:51 PM ET 2006-11-23T01:08:51

The Best Friends Animal Society Shelter in Utah looks normal enough, until you look closer. A few of the dogs are missing legs, one is recovering from a chest wound and many are blind. The cause? Shrapnel.

When war broke out in Lebanon in July, many animals were killed, abandoned or starving. Lebanese volunteers tried to save the ones they could.

They quickly learned that when you try to save animals caught in war, you've got a problem on your hands.

Hundreds, thousands of animals were in need — and the country's only animal shelter was damaged by bombs. NBC News and others reported the problem, and Americans responded: An emergency charter flight was set up with 300 animal evacuees that needed food, water and medical attention. It was Doggie First Class.

Critics would later say the $300,000 raised and spent to save just 300 animals should have been spent relieving human suffering.

It's an absurd amount of money. But animal welfare volunteers in Beirut say their country has 6,000 agencies trying to alleviate the suffering of humans, but for all the animals in the country, there is only one.

And regardless, by the time the flight landed in Las Vegas, the refugees were celebrities. Many animals that, just days before, ran from humans, now reached out. And this is where one war story ended, and 300 love stories began.

Many who had never had owners, never even wagged a tail, now had names like Wilma, Peanut, Maya, Lily and Verdun.

American families are already lining up to adopt them, scars and all. Because sometimes when the world is so sad, so confusing, you do what you can do and save what you can.

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