Bringing Home the Dogs of War

I’m not going to go into the politics of how I feel about the war, because if I did, Barb’s head would explode.

I will, however, go into how I feel about a government that finds it acceptable to train dogs to serve as part of a military force, but then refuses to help them find loving retirement homes when they are no longer of use. Stunned, angered and.. well, pissed off would pretty much sum it up.

Like many people, I’d heard about the Federal Bill, signed into law by Bill Clinton, that is supposed to protect and safeguard the well being of military service dogs. What I didn’t realize is that compliance with the law isn’t mandatory – it’s optional. This, of course, begs the question of what the actual point of the law is, other than a feel good measure designed to placate the public, while still letting the military off the hook.

In an article on BestFriends.Org, Mike Fry, executive director of Animal Ark, a no-kill shelter in Minnesota’s Twin Cities that’s been helping military dogs in Iraq since the war began, explains –

“A lot of people think the law requires that (service dogs) be cared for,”

“It just makes it an option. It doesn’t require it,” he continued. “It should be mandatory that if we’re going to breed and deploy and use these animals for our military, we should make sure they have a quality life after their service is over.”

The law mandated that retired military service dogs should be offered for adoption to

…police agencies and other qualified people… once they’re determined adoptable by both the commanders of the dogs’ last units at the recommendation of military veterinarians

The problem with this is that military veterinarians – who aren’t experienced in either behaviorism or dog training – too often deem the dogs to be ‘too vicious’ to be placed into retirement homes.

The biggest drawback of all, however, is that the dogs are not available for adoption to civilians, and that the military does not allow animal rescue groups to foster them. As Staff Sgt. Casey Gregg, spokesman at the kennels of the Fort Myer Army Base in Arlington, Virginia, says –

“We adopt out to military personnel,” Gregg said in a telephone interview. “This isn’t a public facility. These are police dogs. We’re not a rescue kennel.”

It’s disturbing enough to know that, even when experienced rescue groups offer to take on these dogs, they are refused. It’s even more disturbing to know that the dogs currently deployed in Iraq aren’t even guaranteed a return flight home. In fact, there’s nothing in place to stop the military from simply abandoning them and leaving them behind when the troops finally pull out.

“There’s nothing in place to guarantee that the dogs will come back from Iraq,” Fry said. “I think it should be flat-out national policy that those dogs should never be left behind. The existing law gives the secretary of defense authority as to whether we bring them back or not. If you contact your representatives, they’ll say it’s been taken care of with that law, but it’s not true.

“There’s no reason why these dogs can’t simply get on those planes with their handlers and go home.”

Read the rest of the article here.

As the video below explains, the Iraq war is costing each American citizen an average of $275 per month. Shouldn’t some of that be used to ensure that ex military dogs get the hero’s return and retirement they’ve so richly earned?

Thanks to TerrierMan for the video link.