Tell Congress Military Working Dogs are Not Equipment

They go above and beyond to demonstrate their intelligence, loyalty and bravery. They refuse to leave the sides of their fallen soldiers and are repeatedly asked to risk their lives. Yet, when all is said and done, our military working dogs (MWDs) are classified as nothing more than equipment by the Department of Defense.

MWDs are used by all arms of the Armed Forces, along with other government agencies, but their current classification doesn’t just make them and their contributions in the military seem insignificant, it makes it difficult to transport them back to the U.S. and leaves them with without veterinary care after they are retired.

At retirement they’re merely considered excess equipment and receive no medical benefits, despite the range of problems they may develop from physical issues to psychological ones resulting from the trauma of violence, which can make finding a forever home mission impossible.

Early this spring, the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act (H.R. 1043, S. 2134) was introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina and would reclassify MWDs as Canine Members of the Armed Forces, which will benefit MWDs in three major ways without costing taxpayers a dime.


If MWDs are retired outside of the U.S., the cost of bringing them home falls on a potential adopter and can cost a few thousand dollars. This legislation will standardize practices for transporting MWDs back to the states and taken to the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where most of the MWD adoptions take place, which could include accepting frequent flyers so MWDs can fly commercial airlines.

Veterinary Care

Currently, the cost of healthcare for retired MWDs also falls on the shoulders of adopters and it can get expensive considering the host of problems they may be suffering from that range from injuries, illnesses or other issues, such as PTSD.

By some estimates, more than 5 percent of the approximately 650 military dogs deployed by American combat forces are developing canine PTSD. Of those, about half are likely to be retired from service, according to Dr. Walter F. Burghardt Jr., chief of behavioral medicine at the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base.

This legislation would provide medical care for adopted MWDs for life by authorizing the Secretary of Defense to contract with a non-profit to provide veterinary care without using any federal funds.


While the lives and service of MWDs have been recognized with medals and awards, they’re not really official. This legislation would empower the Department of Defense to formally honor dogs who are killed in action, or who perform an “exceptionally meritorious or courageous act,” giving them the recognition they deserve.


Please sign the petition asking your representative to support the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act.

Related Stories:

Family of Fallen Soldier Adopt His Bomb Sniffing Dog

Retired Military working Dog Meets His First Kitten

Brave Dog Shot 5 Times While Protecting Home

Photo credit: The U.S. Army

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Peggy Ausmus
Peggy A.2 years ago


Thomas P.
Thomas P.2 years ago

Thanks. Petition signed.

Barbara J.
Barbara J.2 years ago


Gysele van Santen


Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago

These special dog soldiers need and should retire with a special medal of honour for their service.

pam w.
pam w.3 years ago

What Tricia said....these dogs are very special "soldiers" who deserve only the best from us.

Pamela W.
Pamela W.3 years ago

Where has this story been hiding ?.... I signed this petition in June !!!

It's totally incomprehensible that these wonderful dogs are sent abroad, to risk their lives, on a ONE WAY TICKET!! You had the transport to ship them out there, so you've got what you need to bring them back !!!!!!!!!!!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

they are heroes too. poor puppies

Lorraine Hagin
Lorraine Hagin3 years ago

Petition signed! Thank you for bringing this matter to everyone's attention! These poor dogs deserve to come home after serving in wars, loads won't having laid down their lives for their human buddies! These dogs are heroes and should be treated as such - they are loyal, intelligent and brave creatures who were put into these war zones by the military and so it's their responsibility to make sure that they come home and not abandoned - it's their duty! In many countries, service dogs when retired are either adopted by their handlers or allowed up for adoption by the general public as they do make good pets, so what's the problem with these ex-service dogs having the same chance? Please don't come up with the feeble excuse of no funding as you kind American people have already said that you are prepared to allow some of your tax money to be spent to go towards bringing them home, so have a heart and don't be cruel, bring them home! Come on America and show the rest of the world that you are a kind country, lead the way and stop animal cruelty because by leaving these dogs behind you are no better than any other country that abuses animals, sorry!

Penny Temp no email pleas
Penelope Ryan3 years ago

AS usual the government has it all wrong. The war creators aka the 1% should face what these dogs face. They are heros and considered equipment? Throw the useless congress out . You can't even call those malingerers equipment.