This Veterans Day, as we celebrate our nations veterans both past and present, we salute all of these men and women who have put themselves in harms way so that we may live free. Each and every one of them deserves our recognition, our gratitude and our respect. Of this there is NO doubt.

"War Dog Monument, Sacrifice Field, National Infantry Museum, Ft. Benning, GA. Dedicated 8 October 2000. "

But in our armed services, another group of dedicated soldiers goes virtually unrecognized. Officially, the dogs that are trained for military service are labeled as equipment, not personal. These dogs are drafted into the U.S. military for life. But because these dogs are classified as “surplus equipment” the military does not pay for the dogs’ return trip home. They are often just left behind, or euthanized once they are deemed incapable of continuing the jobs they were trained for.
But they are so much more to the soldiers that they serve with on the battlefield. The stories that surfaced about the “Dogs of Seal Team 6” (the group that killed Osama bin Laden) have sparked a lot of interest in adopting the dogs as they retire from their military service.
Adopting a K9 veteran can be costly (about $2,000). This is mostly because the U.S. military does not pay for the dogs’ return trips home.
In the past, the military would not bring dogs back to U.S. soil because they claimed that these dogs were incapable of being retired to civilian life. The fact is that police dogs, which receive identical training, are successfully and peacefully retired to loving homes and families upon retirement.
Things are different now. The military has changed it’s policy due to overwhelming protests from both the public and the dog handlers themselves. Military dogs are now returned to the U.S. and are no longer euthanized. Now they are given to their handlers when they are retired or the general public can adopt these wonderful war heros.
Yes I said Heros … I use the word Hero because they have gone through everything our men and women have. They’ve all had extensive training, seen combat, been exposed to gunfire, and been around explosions on a daily basis. Just like their human counterparts, they should be able to retire at some point and live a peaceful life.
On the average, when these military dogs comes home, they only have two or three years remaining in their life. With a loving family and in a peaceful atmosphere they can now live out their remaining years in the peace and comfort of a loving home.
So while you celebrate the service and sacrifice of our countries veterans have given, please take the time to remember our K9 veterans too.
Little Known Facts:
– Every year around 300 ” K9 veterans” are retired from service and put up for adoption.
– Since the May 2nd raid on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan, officials said they’d received more than 400 adoption applications.
– A family in the Los Angeles area, was more than happy to adopt 8-year-old German Shepherd named Bagger. They have given him a loving home, but the military will not tell the family anything about the dog’s history.
– Dogs have been fighting with U.S. soldiers for centuries … unofficially in the Civil War, then officially inducted into the U.S. Army in 1942 for service in World War II
– Only 204 of the estimated 4,900 dogs that were used by the U.S military in the Vietnam War returned to the United States, according to military dog organizations. The ones that didn’t make it back were euthanized, abandoned or given away to the South Vietnamese army.
– President Clinton legalized the adopting of military dogs in 2000.
– Gerry Proctor, a spokesman for Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, told the Associated Press that none of the dogs were euthanized now. “All the animals find a home”
– There is a six-month waiting for people wanting to adopt. And applications have gone up substantially since the bin Laden raid.
– Last year, 338 dogs were adopted by families, police departments and other governmental agencies.
Find out more about adopting a military dog.