Imagine a life in which you are very devoted to your job. It’s your highest priority in life, and it requires you to put your life on the line every day to save the lives of others, many of which you don’t know. The pay is low, but you don’t mind. You are rewarded with praise, playtime and companionship with loved ones. You are very happy doing your job and wouldn’t choose any other. But, you are shocked with the retirement plan when it arrives. Suddenly, you are taken away from the person you love most in the world, and you have no certainty about where you will live. Until recently, that described the life of some military working dogs.
While the United States Air Force has helped many military working dogs return to U.S. soil, there has never before been a “Leave No Dog Behind” law ensuring a good retirement plan for all military working dogs. That soon may change.
Last week, the American Humane Association reported on a major victory for military dogs. The 2016 National Defense Authorization (NDA) was finalized by both the House of Representatives and Senate and mandates military working dogs be returned to U.S. soil when retired. Equally important, their human handlers will be given first right of adoption. If they have deceased, a close relative gets next priority. Then adoption rights goes to law enforcement agencies and last but not least is any body able to humanely care for them.
Not only is it a much-improved retirement plan, but known to be very healing for both Marine and dog. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not only common for veterans, but it’s a growing problem for military working dogs.
Providing them the security of a good home on U.S. soil is a way of honoring both the 4-leggeds who serve our country by saving 150 – 200 servicemen and women on the front lines, along with honoring their marines. Assuming the NDA is signed by President Obama, upon retirement, all military dogs will still be saving lives. This time though, instead of detonating IED’s (improvised explosive device) and other hidden weapons, they’ll be mending hearts, including their own.