The heroic pups who courageously serve and paw-tect our country are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
President Barack Obama signed a bill into law last month that guarantees the safe return of all retired military dogs to the United States after serving abroad. In the past, some of these animals were left to retire overseas because they were no longer considered service dogs, and were therefore ineligible for military-funded transportation home, The Washington Times reported.
The American Humane Association estimates that a military dog saves between 150 to 200 service members during his tenure by detecting improvised explosive devices and hidden weapons caches. Upon return from combat, these animals, if given the chance, often continue to protect their humans and help them transition back into society.
“[The bill] will ensure that our four-legged veterans will finally have their chance to come home and live a comfortable, quiet life, hopefully with a handler they deployed with or a fellow veteran,” retired Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, who was reunited with his war dog, Cena, said in a press release. “These dogs have so much love to give…it’s time we show some in return.”
This pooch-protecting measure was part of the $607 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed by the Senate on Nov. 10.
There are an estimated 2,500 dogs currently serving overseas, according to the American Humane Association. To get retired dogs home in the past, humanitarian organizations, like the American Humane Association, or the handlers themselves, would front the transportation costs involved, according to The Times.
And the canines who were left behind faced uncertain futures.
“In some cases they’ve been kept in kennels for indeterminate lengths of time until someone wanted them,” Mark Stubis, spokesman for the American Humane Association, told The Washington Times. “In the best cases, some have been adopted by U.S. military personnel living abroad. In others, they were adopted by local people and, we have heard, in some cases, abused.”
Experts say that even after retirement, these dogs actually still have a lot to give, especially to veterans living with post-traumatic stress syndrome and other mental health issues.
“When they come back suffering from those invisible wounds of war, we’re hoping that their four legged battle buddy will help them heal from PTS,” Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, told The Washington Free Beacon. “We know it works. We’ve seen it work.”
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