US Army Promises to Stop Mistreating Veteran Bomb-Sniffing Dogs

Imagine the outrage if war heroes returning to the United States were locked up for months in cells with little water, food or human interaction. Yet that’s exactly what happened to many four-legged veterans who saved the lives of countless troops.

Some bomb-sniffing military working dogs were left in kennels for as long as 11 months, according to a new report by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (IG), an agency that provides independent oversight of the department’s programs and operations.

Some of the dogs were euthanized. Some, who had never been around children or other dogs, were adopted out with no screening of their new owners.

The IG investigation began in response to complaints from service members about the Army’s mistreatment of the bomb-sniffing dogs. In some cases, soldiers were compelled to go to the kennels themselves and rescue the dogs who’d saved their lives in Afghanistan by sniffing out improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The problems began four years ago, according to the report, when the Army suddenly — and without oversight — cancelled its Tactical Explosive Detection Dog (TEDD) program. It had no procedures in place for re-homing more than 220 dogs that were in the program. “It appeared the Army’s priority was to get rid of the dogs as quickly as possible,” the report states.

The TEDD program was launched in 2010 to train IED detection dogs for use in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The trained dogs were urgently needed at the time due to the increasing use of IEDs in combat. (Sadly, the Pentagon believes live dogs are superior to high-tech gadgets for detecting bombs.)

The program, according to the report, “included Army procurement and contractor sustainment, training, and fielding of military working dogs” from February 2011 to February 2014. Because it was a temporary program, instead of getting dogs from the Air Force’s 341st Training Squadron, the official source for military working dogs, the Army got its own contract to obtain and train the TEDD dogs.

At the end of the contract period, Defense Department instructions and Army regulations required the Army to evaluate the capabilities of the dogs’ capabilities and “dispose of the dogs according to mandatory processes.”

Army Concurs with Report’s Findings of Mistreatment

A few days after the report was published March 1, Army spokesman Maj. Christopher Ophardt said in a statement to Reuters the Army “concurs” with the report’s findings and is complying with its recommendations.

Those recommendations include planning ahead of time for the dogs’ retirement as well as screening potential new owners. According to the report, some bomb-sniffing dogs who had never been around children before were adopted out to families with young kids. One child was bitten by a former TEDD dog, who was later re-homed.

The report also recommended that the Army use better tracking and record keeping for all of its working dogs, including bomb-detection dogs as well as search dogs and patrol dogs.

Ophardt said the Army has already been updating its working dog regulation to comply with Department of Defense standards. The updated regulation is due later this month.

As for all those former TEDD dogs that were returned to the U.S. in 2014, Ophardt told the Army Times their fate: 70 of the dogs were transferred to other Army units; 40 were adopted by their handlers; 17 were transferred to federal agencies; 46 went to various law enforcement agencies; and 47 were adopted by civilians. Nine of the dogs “were reported as deceased,” he said.

Thirteen of the dogs were adopted by a private company that then abandoned them at a Virginia kennel. After spending over a year there, those dogs were rescued by nonprofit organizations and reunited at last with their military handlers.

These four-legged heroes deserve much better when they finish their tours of duty and return to the United States. Hopefully no other dogs will have to go through what the TEDD program dogs did – and better yet, with all the advances in technology, the Army will rethink its belief that live dogs are superior to gadgets for finding bombs.

Photo credit: skeeze


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thank you

Dianne Lynch
Dianne Lynch8 months ago

Disgusting shamefull and absolute ABUSE.... ppl need to stop this NOW!

Danuta W
Danuta W8 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Jeramie D
Jeramie D8 months ago

This makes me so mad I am shaking. Protect these dogs. NOW

Jetana A
Jetana A8 months ago

Just a little collateral damage! Really, how could anyone be surprised that the military would mistreat their dogs?

Christine Stewart
Christine Stewart8 months ago

Horrible! Thank goodness for the folks who are trying to help these dogs!

M s
M s8 months ago

APALLING!!! INEXCUSABLE!! SHAME on the US ARMY What the hell is wrong with this country? exploiting those dogs then just tossing them aside. ALL veterans should be given 1st option to keep their dogs when they retire Those dogs saved countless lives then were treated like garbage

Deborah W
Deborah W8 months ago


Angelflowers D
.9 months ago


Clare O'Beara
Clare O9 months ago

poor dogs