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K9 Veterans Day: Honoring Those That Served Our Country

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K9 Veterans

Approximately 3000 K9 veterans serve alongside our soldiers in the heat of battle and are dedicated warriors whose existence is often unrecognized.

Fortunately, there has been a renewed interest in adopting these service dogs as they retire from their military careers. However, it can be quite costly, as the military does not always pay for the dogs’ return trips home, so some adoptions could cost as much as $2,000.00!

Just as the human soldiers who serve with them, dogs have experienced heavy training, combat, gunfire, explosions and all other products of war. At some point, it is necessary for them to retire and reacquaint themselves with a more peaceful life.

As these dogs prepare to re-enter “civilian life,” it is important that they share in a loving bond with a family that really cares about them and offer them a peaceful life.

Roughly 3,000 dogs, primarily Dutch shepherds, German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and Malinois are deployed with American troops worldwide. These canine soldiers work tirelessly, saving countless lives in the process.

Each year, around 300 of these dogs are retired from their military service and put up for adoption.

Dogs have been fighting with U.S. soldiers for centuries, unofficially during the Civil War and then were subsequently officially inducted in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Sadly, only 204 of the nearly 4,900 dogs that served in the Vietnam War era returned to the states. The dogs that did not make it back suffered abandonment, were euthanized or were given away to the South Vietnamese army.

K9 Veterans Legislation

K9 Veterans Before 2000

Prior to 2000, there were no protections in place to ensure K9 veterans would have a safe life after military service. Of the approximately 5,000 military working dogs the United States used in Vietnam, roughly 2,700 were left in South Vietnam, 1,600 of which were euthanized.

The dogs were viewed as “surplus equipment,” with no value beyond the military purpose they were trained to carry out.

This changed when the story of a K9 veteran named Robby entered public awareness. Robby’s former handler petitioned to adopt him after he was retired from service. This request was denied and Robby was euthanized.

Since 2000

In 2000, President Clinton legalized the adoption of war dogs and no dogs are euthanized now. In fact, they all find a loving home. There is a six-month waiting list for people who want to adopt these special veterans. While some dogs are adopted by families, some also find homes with police departments and other governmental agencies.

In 2015, the Military Dog Retirement Bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama. This law stipulates that MWDs may no longer be deemed “equipment.”

It requires the Department of Defense to arrange and “…pay for transportation of trained military dogs back to the United States,” when they retire from service while deployed abroad.

On this K9 Veterans Day, we salute our tail-wagging comrades. Without them, many soldiers might not have returned home. Thank you for your bravery and courage

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