Things may gradually be improving in Iraq, but it's not a good time to be a dog in Baghdad, as Mother Jones tells us:

Amid its struggles with Sunni jihadists, Shiite radicals, and Kurdish separatists, the Iraqi government is training its sights on a new enemy: dogs. According to the UK's Daily Mail, Iraq is spending 35 million dinars—about $30,000—to send 20 shotgun-wielding squads out to hunt down the capital's strays. Their goal: Killing one million canines. So far, they've scratched 42,000, and they're averaging 2,400 a day. "We could consider this the biggest campaign of dog execution ever," Baghdad's chief veterinarian, Mohammed al-Hilly, told the newspaper

Put so bluntly, it sounds heinous, perhaps even criminal. It's also a tough pill to swallow for many US servicemembers in Iraq, who find comfort in adopted Iraqi pets that wandered in from the wild. But the dog-eradication program is incredibly popular among Iraqis, and could even enhance the government's standing with its discontented populace. And it's not unprecedented: Saddam Hussein used to sponsor dog roundups, and the US military is currently waging its own campaign against the country's feral dogs.

That U.S. dog-eradication program is run by none other than KBR, which takes the dogs it grabs at U.S. bases to a post affectionately called "Camp Slayer" to be euthanized. And you thought they only served food to the troops.

Stray dogs are almost always thought of as a menace, but not everywhere - in case you missed this story from a few months ago, Moscow has thousands of stray dogs, some of whom ride the subway, patiently waiting for their trains and navigating the intricate system with aplomb. Few people seem to mind.

-- Paul Waldman

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