US War Dogs Association – Helping our Four-Legged Veterans

November 11, 2008 at 4:59 pm 2 comments

wardogs21

We *heart* working dogs, especially those that serve in our armed forces. And today TheExaminer reports on our four-legged veterans:

U.S. military dogs have served our country since World War I. The program began with a handful of dogs and peaked during the Viet Nam War. The official list contains the names of 3,747 military K-9s but, there are estimates that 4,900 dogs actually served. The statistics breakdown as follows: 65% of the K-9s served in the Army, 26% Air Force, 7% Marines and 2% Navy. The majority of these dogs were not allowed to return home to the United States.
 
Today, war dogs are being used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan and although the military has made concessions about allowing them to return home, most of their futures are uncertain. To honor their dedication and sacrifice, the men who served as handlers for these four-legged soldiers established the U.S. War Dog Association.  
From WCSH Portland, ME:

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Eight to 10 years is a full military career for dogs used by the Armed Services, but what happens when those dogs are retired?

Ron Aiello, president of the U.S. War Dogs Association, said about 2,500 canines are active war dogs, with about 700 of those serving in the Middle East. Aiello said upon retirement, some dogs are adopted by law enforcement agencies and others are distributed to former handlers.

It is sometimes possible for civilians to adopt dogs that are considered not too aggressive by contacting the military, and Aiello’s organization is trying tie up loose ends that could leave some dogs euthanized.

The US War Dogs Assocation is a nonprofit organization of Former and Current US Military Dog Handlers and supporting members committed to promoting the long history of the Military Service Dogs, establishing permanent War Dog Memorials, and educating the public about the invaluable service of these canines to our country. They run several programs to inform the public about the important sacrifices made by war dogs; to provide financial support to service dog organizations like military units, police canines and search and rescue dogs; and help find homes for retired military and police canines.

Sadly, many of these brave dogs don’t get the kind safe retirement they deserve.  Again from WCSH:

“They are considered disposable material by the higher-up people that don’t know what these dogs do,” Antoinette Bishop said.

[…]  The Bishops care for 18 dogs, including 10 they’ve adopted through NERO, named for a K9 who died from cancer in March 2005. They placed a former Spartanburg Public Safety Department K9 with a home in Texas.

Aiello said that many of the war dogs used in Vietnam were too aggressive for civilian adoption, but strides have been made with agencies that retrain the dogs. He said adoption of military dogs was established in November 2000, and the government routes most war dogs in America to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Antoinette Bishop said the more aged the dog, the less likely it is to be adopted by a law enforcement agency. She said 281 were adopted, 74 were waiting to be adopted and 116 were euthanized in 2006.

Some former handlers are interested in adopting a dog but are still on tours of duty. NERO is able to help that process by caring for the dog until the owner returns.

Interested in helping?

To donate to the US War Dogs Association War Dog Memorial CLICK HERE

To buy US War Dogs merchandise CLICK HERE

For an application to adopt a retired military dog CLICK HERE 
(this is NOT a decision to take lightly and I am sure that USWDA screens applicants very carefully)

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gin  |  December 22, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I knew that the military used dogs and have been researching this area and am glad I did. Dogs are truly Man’s best friend and most loyal. Qualities of a excellent soldier even if he/she does have four legs. I wanted to do a article about this and am glad I found your blog. Hope it is alright if I include your link. Thank you for this information. I would love to help raise awareness.

  • 2. SmartDogs  |  December 22, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Gin – please do include our link and help raise awareness for the War Dogs. Working and retired dogs need our help and support.

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