Thursday, November 6, 2014

Are Our Military Working Dogs Being Left Behind?

   
We salute and honor our Military Working Dogs!
Did you watch the Hallmark Channel’s Hero Dog Awards last week?  I love to watch the dog’s stories of heroism.  I told my husband that I would have trouble attending the live show, since I would be doing the “ugly cry.”  Each dog’s story is so impressive and tugs at any dog lover’s heart.
   After the show, I was left with the impression that our U.S. military dogs were being abandoned.  I was outraged and it made me cry even harder.  Let me say that I am not sure that was the impression the America Humane Association intended.  I am a huge fan of the incredible work they do. I am only telling you what I took away from the broadcast.
   I decided to do some research to see if our military would actually spend time and money to train these dogs only to discard them to fend for themselves on foreign soil.  After all, these dogs are our fighting warriors on four paws!  There isn’t too much that the government does that shocks me anymore.  I wanted to believe that there was simply no way this was happening.  Here is what I have found out during my research.
   After the Vietnam War, many dogs were left behind.  Here is the link to a YouTube video, The real story of the Vietnam War - WAR DOGS- AMERICA'S FORGOTTEN HEROES, if you’d like to watch it.  *This is not a warm fuzzy feeling video.  If you were alive during the Vietnam War, you know the state our country was in during those years.  Hindsight is always 20/20 in every military action.
   The recent article, "Don't Abandon Our Dogs of War," written by Jonah Goldberg and published on the National Review Online where he is the founding editor and editor-at-large, has many people upset.  In the article, Mr. Goldberg states, It is one thing to ask these warriors to say goodbye to their dog when it is still on active duty and is assigned a new handler, which often happens.  It is quite another to ask them to leave these dogs behind when the dogs are effectively abandoned overseas, left to languish in shelters — or worse.  That’s why handlers are sometimes forced to make incredible sacrifices to get their four-legged comrades home on their own.
   I found several articles that refute that.  On Orvis.com, Phil Monahan and on Rick's Foreign Policy, Rebecca Frankel the senior editor, special projects at Foreign Policy and Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent both published articles stating that the claims are nothing more than a perpetual urban legend.  Ms. Frankel’s article is also posted on the Facebook of Military Working Dogs.
   The Department of Defense has 100% accountability over every Military Working Dog (MWD) in its program.  There are also Contract Working Dogs (CWD) provided by contractors.  The contracts require those dogs to be returned to the contractor when the contract ends.  Congress oversees the MWD program and every dog that was removed from service must be accounted for in an annual report.  It includes how many dogs were taken out of action, how they were removed, and that must include any euthanasia.
   There are many stray dogs in war zones and many are “adopted” by our service men and women.  This is a violation of the Department of Defense policies.  When those soldiers return stateside, the government does not provide transportation back for those dogs.  Those dog are left behind, because that is their homeland.  Many of these dogs can be reunited with their soldier through donations from several wonderful organizations.  However, they are not abandoned military dogs.
   When it comes to the CWD dogs, some of the contractors that have been working with the Afghanistan and Iraq governments sell the dogs to those countries.  Some of these dogs are extremely experienced and already in those countries.  This is not a common practice.
   I hope that this helps shed some light on the subject.  In a perfect world no dogs would be left alone in a war zone.  I'm sure that being away from home in a hostile environment and a stray dog comes to be your friend, you would love it.  It is heart breaking that these dogs cannot return with their owners.  I’m sure that is the purpose for the policy against keeping a non-military dog.
   Several terrific organizations do work tirelessly to raise money to reunite our veterans with the dogs they fell in love with and had to leave.  I commend them for their work and hope I get to watch many more soldier/dog reunions.  As with all charities, please check into the one where you send your money.
    **I am only sharing the information that I found through an online search.  The majority of my research supported the belief that no Military Working Dogs are being left behind.  I did not personally speak to any of the authors of the articles mentioned.  

War is not healthy for dogs or other living creatures.

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32 comments :

  1. Thank you for a great article full of info! Congratulations to the winner of your giveaway!

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    1. Thank you! I was glad to uncover the truth.

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  2. That was a great post and we love those trying to reunite veterans with the dogs they fell in love with. Well done to the winner of the giveaway. Have tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. Being able to reunite veterans with their war buddy is so important for both of them to heal. ☺

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  3. You boys are looking very patriotic in that photo. Our old neighbor was a bomb detection dog trainer for the military. He actually brought several "retired" dogs back with him from Afganistan. They were great dogs.

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    1. It is so nice when K9s are able to have a great retirement.

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  4. We too have been saddened by the stories of military dogs being left behind, given to another handlers etc. We are part of a group that raises money to pay for these dogs return to the USA and be reunited with their original handlers. Personally I think military dogs should have all the same privileges as military people and get to come hoe when their tour of duty is finished.

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    1. It would be wonderful if their tour of duty ended at the same time as their handler. If they are MWD they do return stateside after their duty is over.

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    2. I really like your idea about military dogs being able to return home when their tour of duty is finished rather than being passed to another handler. I wonder if dogs can suffer PTSD as well, especially if they stay in a war zone for too long. Thanks for that comment. Awesome post, Melissa!
      Cathy

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  5. We are totally with Reilly and Denny and their Mama!! The dogs should be in service for a certain time, and then return (hopefully with a human they trained with). Great and thoughtful post!
    Smileys!
    Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo

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    1. Thanks Dory. We agree that it is kinder on the dog and soldier to return together.

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  6. It is unfortunate that Military Working Dogs are considered "equipment" rather than trained personnel. I think every MWD should be able to come home and be re-homed with either their handler or another family. Great post!
    Oz

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    1. Since the mistakes of Vietnam, our military no longer considers the MWD as equipment and they are returned home. Unfortunately, it is not always with their original handler.

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  7. |Equipment.... :( That is just awful. I would have been just like you crying my eyes out.
    Thank you for bringing attention to this Melissa.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. The Hero Dog Show Awards is an amazing show. I saw several audience members crying. The dogs are all heroes and deserve all of the recognition they receive. ♥

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  8. Happy Thoughtless Thursday. Thanks for sharing this important info.

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    1. Thanks Ruckus! I love being a part of Thoughtless Thursday. ☺

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  9. A few years ago websites that took applications to adopt war dogs were not taking any new applicants because there were no dogs available.

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  10. This was an important post, thank you for sharing this. It really is not right at all and shocks me that dogs are left behind like this. Congrats to the winner of the giveaway!

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    1. Thank Katie. It would be nice if every dog that becomes a pet/companion to soldiers could hitch a ride home with their buddy. ♥

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  11. Very interesting - so glad you verified that rumor...and that it's not true.

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  12. Congratulations to the WINNER...

    Now we want to THANK YOU for doing the research and getting to the truth of the matter. We think they could all be brought back and then used as THERAPY FRIENDS... for those in VA Hospitals. They could spend the rest of their lives with COMRADS .

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    1. We could not agree with y'all more! ♥

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    2. What a fabulous idea, Frankie! What better therapy dog in a VA hospital could you have? I love that idea.
      Cathy

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  13. Oh, we weren't aware you are now co-hosting Thoughtless Thursday. We are really behind on news. :(

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  14. Thank you for researching this. I'm glad there are organizations out there that are helping. I often don't watch shows like that because I know I will just cry throughout them. But they are great and important stories. The bottom line is as you said at the end....war is not good for anyone.
    Lots of wags and woofs from the crew at Wag n Woof Pets



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  15. Thank you for this post. Great photo and congrats to the winner!

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  16. I love the work that Mission K9 Rescue does - they help provide the funds needed to get the retired dogs back on U.S. soil. I've been trying to keep up to date on the law that supposed to be passing soon that will help expedite/make it easier for these dogs to come back home and be reunited with their handlers, so thank you for finding new information. I'm also eagerly awaiting the results of the VA's study on the effect of PTSD dogs. Thank you for doing the research and posting such a great article.

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  17. I can't image what that would be like to have to leave a dog behind as a military dog especially when soldiers have fought next to them. I recently learned about something Dog is Good is doing for veterans day that you might be interested in. Its Dog is Good for Patriots which benefits Freedom Service Dogs of America http://www.dogisgood.com/Patriots/. Great post!

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  18. What a powerful post! This struck such a chord with me. Veterans and dogs are both very near & dear to my heart. I've done some volunteer work with veterans, and volunteer at Hero Awards events (for dogs) as well. I had my heart in my mouth at the beginning of your post - I'm so relieved to see that dogs aren't being abandoned on foreign soil, I could not deal with that at all! I worry that military dogs are being forced to remain in combat zones for much longer than they can tolerate. Wonder what the effects of that are?
    Love & Biscuits,
    Cathy, Isis & Phoebe
    www.dogsluvusandweluvthem.blogspot.com

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