U.S. Army mistreats its retired war dogs

When it comes to providing for retired military service dogs, many expect these heroes will receive the greatest amount of care and respect. After all, these dogs have served their country in many ways such as by risking their lives to detect bombs and traps in the most dangerous of circumstances. Whether under fire or caught in an ambush in the Middle East or anywhere else where danger thrives, these dogs and their handlers have been through it all, doing their duty and protecting our freedom.

But to everyone’s horror, these army dogs are taken away from the handlers that they’ve fought alongside with for years and dumped into kennels or unsuitable families. Try as the handler might to get the rights for adoption, the army purposely throws them off course, making them unable to achieve any possibility of reclaiming their canine buddies.

According to an article in Newsweek, the inspector general of the defense department launched an investigation when service veterans raised concerns that canine war heroes, after serving their country in Afghanistan from 2010 and 2014, were being neglected. Such neglect included being left in kennels for nearly a year and mistreated by lack of care and attention. Because of this negligence, it became necessary to go so far as to put the dogs down.

When the dogs were adopted, there were no screenings of the new owners, who were random civilians. This caused a problem for the dog’s original handlers as they couldn’t even identify where their best friends might be found. These handlers were all members of brigade combat teams who needed the canines as bomb sniffers in the most dangerous of missions. The inspector general of the department reported that some of these soldiers did find their canine companions but through arduous investigation and research.

Many of the unscreened owners in these investigations, the ones that soldiers happily reunited with their best friends from, were unfit to treat and provide for the dogs; these owners were abusive, financially unstable, or had small children with a high risk of being bitten. For doing this, the report faults the army for violating Pentagon rules for dealing with military service dogs. The inspector general stated, “The Army did not use the DOD Working Dog Management system, as required by the Joint Military Working Dog Instruction and Army Regulation 190-12.”

What’s more, the army had hired a private contractor to send the dogs to these kennels and clinics to be randomly adopted by strangers. Doing this breaks the important rule of keeping the military dogs strictly handled by the military branch they were assigned to. Soldiers who worked with these dogs were appalled by this, some having loved their canines more than even their own families. To know that after all the service these dogs have done to ensure the safety of our soldiers their reward is being neglected in a cold cage, or handled by an abusive stranger, is highly mortifying. These are more than just animals, more than dogs. These are heroes we’re neglecting, and this needs to change.


Joseph Frare is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.frare@uconn.edu.