Lost Pup Finds New Life As Humanitarian Mascot In Refugee Camp
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Now to Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, and the largest refugee camp in the world. We're going to meet a new member of the team that is helping to care for Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar. That member, or mascot, is Foxtrot, the humanitarian pup. NPR's Jason Beaubien has his story.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Foxtrot - come, come, come, come.
JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: If you visit the World Food Programme's compound in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, it's hard not to notice Foxtrot because he immediately attacks your shoelaces.
GEMMA SNOWDON: Foxtrot. Foxtrot, no biting.
BEAUBIEN: Gemma Snowdon, also known as Foxtrot's mom, first came across the dog late last year, when a group of WFP staffers were volunteering in a monthly beach cleanup campaign.
SNOWDON: And this puppy just appeared and started following us.
BEAUBIEN: Foxtrot was only about 4 weeks old. He was dehydrated, exhausted and far more interested in Snowdon than in trying to find his real mom.
SNOWDON: So we brought him in, left him here overnight, and honestly, none of us expected him to survive because he was just so small. But came in the next day, and he was happily running around, and he's been running around the compound ever since.
BEAUBIEN: Not everyone in the WFP office was thrilled by Foxtrot's arrival. Binta Bajaha, the head of gender for WFP's Cox's Bazar operation was also at the beach cleanup when Foxtrot was rescued, and she didn't think this whole thing was a good idea.
BINTA BAJAHA: I was like, what are they doing with a dog in an office?
BEAUBIEN: One of the things he does in the office, staffers say, is often bite people shoes and ankles. Soon after he arrived, Foxtrot almost died again.
SNOWDON: So there are no vets in Cox's Bazaar, which means that we weren't able to get him vaccinated. And we did have a terrible scare because he got parvovirus, and parvovirus has about a 90% once mortality rate in puppies who aren't treated by a vet.
BEAUBIEN: Snowdon had to turn to her WFP colleagues to figure out how to get Foxtrot onto an IV drip, and she even drafted Bajaha into the medical effort to save Foxtrot.
BAJAHA: And lo and behold, Gemma called me to bring the first-aid kit, on a Friday, which is the weekend here.
BEAUBIEN: Foxtrot has a World Food Programme cape that he wears when he goes out in the field, sort of the canine equivalent of a humanitarian vest. On International Women's Day, he won Bajaha over by donning a purple Women's Day cape as he toured WFP projects.
BAJAHA: So he makes sure that people are aware of things that we do here in Cox's Bazar for the Rohingya operation. So love him or not, Foxtrot is an asset (laughter).
BEAUBIEN: When he's not visiting the refugee camps or running around the WFP's office, Foxtrot can be found at @humanitarian_pup (ph) on Instagram, and he also occasionally pops up on Twitter. Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
(SOUNDBITE OF JENS LEKMAN'S "OPPOSITE OF HALLELUJAH")
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