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Victory For Nation's Military Dogs: Senate Passes 2016 National Defense Authorization Act With Provisions To Return Military Dogs To U.S. Soil, Reunite Them With Handlers

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The nation's military working dogs, each of whom saves the lives of between 150-200 servicemen and women in the course of their career, are one step closer to being guaranteed treatment as the heroes they are as the U.S. Senate today followed the House of Representatives in passing the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with language supported by American Humane Association mandating that America's heroic military working dogs will be returned to U.S. soil upon retirement, and that their human handlers and their families – to whom these dogs mean more than anyone else – will be given first right of adoption. The language was introduced in the House by Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and the Senate by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Despite the remarkable efforts of the U.S. Air Force, which has worked hard to bring back most war dogs, too many of our four-footed veterans are left behind on foreign soil and never again see their human Battle Buddies with whom they went through so much. The problem is that if dogs are retired overseas, they become civilians and are no longer qualified to travel home on military vehicles – creating an often insurmountable barrier to getting them home to the ones who care for them most. Over the past year, American Humane Association has privately funded the transportation home of 21 military working dogs and contract working dogs and helped reunite them with their former human handlers. In July, American Humane Association held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to shed light on the need to bring home all our veterans and press for long-overdue changes to the NDAA. On Veterans Day 2014, American Humane Association and the United States War Dogs Association announced an arrangement with New Jersey's Red Bank Veterinary Hospital to provide free specialized veterinary care to all retired canine veterans.



Proposed House Version (H.R. 4103) and Senate Version (S.2134) was passed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. (NDAA) for fiscal Year 2013.

It authorizes the Secretary of the appropriate military department to transport retiring military working dogs to the 341st Training Squadron or another suitable location for adoption, if no suitable adoption is available at the military facility where the dog is located. It also authorizes the Secretary of Defense to accept travel benefits such as frequent traveler miles to facilitate the adoption of a retired military working dog.

The Secretary of Defense may establish and maintain a system to provide for the veterinary care of retired military working dogs beginning on the date on which the dog is adopted via a contract awarded to a private non-profit entity that will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the system and that no federal funds are used to operate the system. The Secretary will consult with the board of directors of the non-profit to establish standards of veterinary care, including the types of care to be provided, the entities qualified to provide the care, and the facilities in which the care may be provided.

It directs the Secretary of Defense to create a decoration or other appropriate recognition to recognize military working dogs that are killed in action or perform an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act in service to the United States.

Unfortunately, what the bill did NOT do was change the Military Working Dogs' designation as "equipment" as this distinction remains in the bill that passed and the proposed medical care has not been implemented.

A letter was sent to Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta on December 31, 2012 by the senators who supported this bill asking him to implement the statuatory changes listed above and to reexamine the current classification of Military Working dogs as "equipment". As cosponsors of the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, they, and we, believe these dogs deserve a designation befitting their extraordinary service.

Please note: Although the law has passed, MWDs remain classified as "equipment" and there has been no provision for their medical care in retirement.

Military Working Dog Certificate of Meritorious Service

With the Canines Members of the Armed Forces act passing and sign by the President on 03 January 2013, the Military is now issuing to our Military Working Dogs a Military Working Dog Certificate of Meritorious Service.

Anyone who adopted a MWD should contact the unit where they adopted their dog to see about obtaining a Certificate.


House Resolution 5314 became Public Law No: 106-446 on November 6, 2000.

This law required the immediate termination of the Department of Defense practice of euthanizing military working dogs at the end of their useful working life and to facilitate the adoption of retired military working dogs by law enforcement agencies, former handlers of these dogs, and other persons capable of caring for these dogs.