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Protecting our military dogs

Military Dogs

Dogs have been assisting U.S. military personnel in war about as long as the U.S. has been going to war, as we write in an editorial Monday.

Dogs are trained in a program run by the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and then deployed worldwide to assist all branches of the service in patrolling, explosives detection or combat tracking.

 However, the elite Special Operations forces operate their own separate working dog training program -- presumably the provenance of the dog that accompanied the commandos on the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.

Astonishingly, for 50 years, military working dogs were euthanized upon their retirement from service.  "There was no provision that gave military kennels the ability to do anything otherwise," said Gerry Proctor, a spokesman at Lackland Air Force Base.

That changed when a federal law was passed in 2000 permitting retired military dogs to be adopted out. It is often called the Robby Law, after an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois military dog who, crippled with arthritis, was retired from Marine Corps service and slated for euthanasia. His handler, denied permission to adopt the dog, took his struggle public, attracting the attention of thousands of animal lovers.  A news story caught the eye of U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) who drafted the bill that became law. (Robby's condition so deteriorated that the dog had to be euthanized for health reasons in early 2001.)

Now, dogs either return to the Lackland military working dog program to help train handlers or they are adopted out.  The waiting list of people eager to adopt a working dog is about six months long, according to Proctor.  Lackland has an official adoption website with more information.

RELATED:

U.S. military: The dogs of war

Japan's 'Katrina moment'?

Getting beyond 'puppy mills'

L.A. County ordinance cracks down on 'puppy mill' abuses

--Carla Hall

Photo: Staff Sgt. Erick Martinez, a military dog handler, uses an over-the-shoulder carry with his dog Argo II in this March 4 image released by the U.S. Air Force. Credit: Allen Stokes / Reuters

 

Comments () | Archives (3)

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Susan McConnell

Hopefully these heros receives lots of love in their adopted homes . . . they deserve it

Wardog72

The Department of Defense DID adopt out or transfer our dogs to Law Enforcement agencies decades prior to the "Robby Law". Gerry Proctor's info is incorrect. The dogs were "sold" (the price was the cost of the immunizations) and there were hundreds put out to homes or working the beat (I've seen the paperwork firsthand). The law made the process better and provided legal protections to the government.

NL

Wonderful that so many more people are stepping up to adopt these dogs. The bond between these dogs and their handlers in the military is a remarkable thing, much like the relationship between Civil War soldiers to the dogs who accompanied them. Soldiers in Blue and Gray shared strong bonds of loyalty and trust with their dogs and often remembered their canine soldiers decades after the war. You can read about them here: http://www.loyaltyofdogs.com/LargeView.aspx


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