This is a petition for the United States Congress to immediately pass the recently introduced Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, H.R.4103 and Senate S.2134.
This legislation would finally take U.S. military working dogs (MWDs) out of the category of "equipment" and make them bona fide "Canine Members of the Armed Forces." If it passes, these loyal four-legged heroes who risk their lives for the safety of our troops would at last be officially recognized as the intrepid warriors and lifesavers they have been for war after war. The fact that dogs are still considered equipment is terribly behind the times. Sure, they’re not human soldiers, but they are a far cry from a rifle or a helmet or a helicopter.
As it stands now, military dogs who are retired overseas remain at kennels there until they're adopted. If someone in the U.S. wants to adopt a dog, the adopter has to pay the cost of the transport back to the US, which can be very expensive. Military dogs also usually need significant veterinary care after their military service, and today anyone adopting such a dog also has to adopt all the veterinary bills the dog will incur. Unfortunately if no one adopts the dogs deemed too aggressive or too sick after combat, the military has no choice other than to euthanize them.
There is legislation pending in the US Congress to address these issues; the bills are House: H.R.4103 and Senate: S.2134. This legislation would assist military working dogs in three very important ways:
First, the legislation would bring these dogs back to Lackland Air Force base, where most military dog adoptions already take place. It would also provide for the transportation to Lackland of any retired dogs who may be languishing at other military facilities in the U.S. This transportation would be done via commercial air by using donated travel benefits also used to facilitate the travel of our service members, so it would not cost anything for US taxpayers.
Second, the legislation would direct the Department of Defense to establish a system of veterinary care for retired military working dogs, through a contract with a private nonprofit entity and without using any federal funds. This would in effect create a sort of canine Veterans Administration, but without the government running it or funding it.
Finally, the legislation would empower the Department of Defense to honor courageous and meritorious dogs, including those killed in action, through appropriate recognition such as letter of commendation. Today when you hear about dogs receiving awards and decorations, it’s usually because someone high up in the military command knows how valuable these dogs are, and wants to reward their valor and heroism, but the awards don’t have the blessing of the Department of Defense. These dogs of course don’t care much for awards, but the honors we bestow on canine heroes are really more for those who love them and live by them, and those who have been saved by them.
If you want to help the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act pass, let your senator or representative know you support it. Please mention these legislation identifications in your correspondence. House: H.R.4103. Senate: S.2134.