IDF soldier adopts abused dog in Gaza

Omri Vaknin, an IDF soldier in the Combat Engineering Corps' Reserve Battalion 7107, says he named the dog Willy after he found her, very frightened, in a school in the Gaza Strip; 'She suffers from a lot of traumas'

Sharon Kidon, Nir (Shoko) Cohen|Updated:
Omri Vaknin an IDF soldier in the Combat Engineering Corps' Reserve Battalion 7107, adopted a dog he found in the Gaza Strip. "She suffers from a lot of traumas," he told Ynet. He hopes that after training she will return to herself.
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And what's her name? "Willy, like in the movie 'Free Willy.'"
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עם לוחמים ברצועת עזה
עם לוחמים ברצועת עזה
Willy the dogwith IDF troops in the Gaza Strip
Vaknin recounted noticing the dog while in the school compound in the Gaza Strip.
"I looked out the window and saw a quite scared dog, I tried to call her," he said. "She was very frightened. It seemed like she didn't understand her surroundings. The next day, she arrived at the schoolyard. I tried to approach her, but she refused to come close. I opened a can of tuna and placed it aside. She ate the tuna, and gradually she agreed to come closer, until I started petting her."
The reservist soldier recounted that the dog didn't connect with the other stray dogs that roamed the area where he was stationed in Gaza, and it appeared she had likely suffered abuse. "I noticed she wasn't fitting in with the pack and, throughout that week, I approached her every chance I got. So, I decided to take her home with me when I leave Gaza," Vaknin said.
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מתרגלת לבית החדש בישראל
מתרגלת לבית החדש בישראל
Willy adjusting to her new home in Israel
At this point, the reservist soldier left Gaza to attend a friend's wedding, and then it was decided to withdraw his unit from Gaza. Vaknin insisted on taking the dog out of there as well, but his superiors did not approve.
Later, he posted a request on Instagram for someone else to take the dog out of the Gaza Strip for him. "I received thousands of messages from all over the country. Celebrities sent me messages, Knesset members called me, and even high-ranking officers in the army. In the end, reservist troops from the battalion that arrived to the school where the dog was located brought her out to Israel.
"The dog is now with me at home," Vaknin said. "What's beautiful is that, beyond successfully getting the dog out, all the people who were concerned about this dog also offered me help afterward. Whether it's free training, or taking care of her while I'm absent, people just wanted to help. Her condition is much better now. She's happy, she's playing. She didn't know what toys or treats for dogs were at all, she still suffers from a lot of traumas."
First published: 15:02, 02.14.24
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