We’ve all seen the photos that float around on the internet. They show soldiers in Afghanistan or Iraq with their German Shepherds curled up together after a long day of work. The MP off duty with helmet for a pillow, her dog sitting dutifully by her side.
What you may not know is that the military currently classifies these animals as “equipment” and that when their working careers are over there is no guarantee that they’ll end up adopted or go home with their handlers.
There are stories of wounded dogs going home with their discharged handlers, or even more rarely, discharged dogs who can’t or won’t work without their KIA handlers being adopted by the handler’s family. These instances are rare and usually are because of public pressure. As the dogs are classified as “equipment” the military has final say over their disposition.
There is currently a bill in front of the U.S. Senate aiming to change that. (It has already passed the House.) Details and a link to the petition are below and are provided by the ASPCA. I hope you’ll consider signing it.
Each branch of the Armed Forces uses military working dogs (MWDs) in service to our country. Many of these intelligent, loyal animals have served alongside our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they prevented countless injuries and saved lives.
Unfortunately, these heroic dogs are currently classified as “equipment” by the U.S. Department of Defense. This classification not only trivializes these animals’ contributions, it also makes it difficult to transport dogs serving in foreign lands back to the United States for adoption once they’re ready for civilian life.
The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act will remedy this issue by reclassifying MWDs as “canine members of the armed forces” and instituting programs to assist with their placement and veterinary care after retirement from service—all without using federal funds. This legislation is a common-sense solution that will give these dogs the care and respect that they have earned.
Please consider signing this petition and sending a politely worded email to your Senators. It doesn’t take much time to do and it won’t change the world. But it will change the world for these dogs.