The nation’s military working dogs, each of whom saves the lives of between 150-200 servicemen and women in the course of their career, are one step closer to being guaranteed treatment as the heroes they are as the U.S. Senate has followed the House of Representatives in passing the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) mandating that America’s heroic military working dogs will be returned to U.S. soil upon retirement, and that their human handlers and their families – to whom these dogs mean more than anyone else – will be given first right of adoption.
Despite the remarkable efforts of the U.S. Air Force, which has worked hard to bring back most war dogs, too many of our four-footed veterans are left behind on foreign soil and never again see their human Battle Buddies with whom they went through so much. The problem is that if dogs are retired overseas, they become civilians and are no longer qualified to travel home on military vehicles – creating an often insurmountable barrier to getting them home to the ones who care for them most. Over the past year, American Humane Association has privately funded the transportation home of 21 military working dogs and contract working dogs and helped reunite them with their former human handlers. In July, American Humane Association held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to shed light on the need to bring home all our veterans and press for long-overdue changes to the NDAA. On Veterans Day 2014, American Humane Association and the United States War Dogs Association announced an arrangement with New Jersey’s Red Bank Veterinary Hospital to provide free specialized veterinary care to all retired canine veterans.
“Today, America’s military working dogs are one step closer to being guaranteed treatment as the heroes they are,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association president and CEO. “Thank you to Congressman LoBiondo, Senator McCaskill and all our friends in the House and Senate who are championing the cause of military dogs and their handlers. We now urge the President to sign this long-overdue measure into law. We believe ALL our veterans – two-footed and four-footed – should come back to a hero’s welcome, a loving, forever home, and the happy, healthy, and dignified retirement they so deserve after a lifetime of service to their country. That hope is now within sight of becoming a reality.”