Tag Archives: Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Thomas Foster and his improvised explosives detection dog, Diamond, with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (2/7), Regimental Combat Team 7, patrol through local Afghan settlements in Montakee, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2013. The Marines of 2/7 utilized enablers like IDD's and secure electronic enrollment kit portable biometric device to patrol and restrict the enemy's freedom of maneuver. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert J. Reeves/ Released)

Are Military Dogs Equipment?

You are absolutely right if you were thinking I haven’t posted a pure picture of the week post in quite some time. 

Well this week I decided to change that and had some time at lunch yesterday so I caroused some pictures and pondered a theme for the week.

I don’t feel the need to have a theme all the time…it does make it fun sometimes though and normally if I have one they aren’t planned out…..it just comes to me… like: Cool Dog Wear Shades. 

I need to do another one of those actually….. Military Working Dogs wearing ”sunglasses” just can’t be beat! 

OK, we all know they are ballistic eye wear called Doggles (yes I said doggles) that are meant to protect our 4-legged troop’s eyes. But you have to admit….they look adorable. 

All right fine, you win. Here is a picture of everyone’s favorite 4-legged trooper, Honza Bear, with his doggles on.

Military Working Dog Honza with doggles

Military Working Dog Honza always wears his doggles for the ladies!

Anyway, back to my point. So this week I wanted to get back to the basics and make this post all about the dogs. But then I saw the picture below. 

U.S. Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (2/7), Regimental Combat Team 7 patrol through local Afghan settlements and shops in Montakee, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2013. The Marines of 2/7 utilized equipment like improvised explosives detection dogs, interpreters, and secure electronic enrollment kits, a portable biometric device, to register and recognize the local population of Boldak, in support of International Security Assistance Forces. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert J. Reeves/ Released)

U.S. Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (2/7), Regimental Combat Team 7 patrol through local Afghan settlements and shops in Montakee, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2013. The Marines of 2/7 utilized equipment like improvised explosives detection dogs, interpreters, and secure electronic enrollment kits, a portable biometric device, to register and recognize the local population of Boldak, in support of International Security Assistance Forces. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert J. Reeves/ Released)

No, it wasn’t the crazy Taliban looking dude that caught my attention. Look at the caption and tell me if you notice something.

Who noticed that the photographer or maybe his editor called the Improvised Explosive Detector Dog “equipment”?

I was dumbfounded and then I got fired up and started to write this post.  

Who has watched the new Animal Planet program called Glory Hounds? Admittedly I’ve only watched the first hour. After the hand grenade incident I sat there, wiped a tear from my eye, shut the TV off, and went and laid with my dogs on their bed. I needed to be close to them. 

For those that watched the show you know those handlers and dogs are Marines.  

As I’ve said from the start on this blog in one of my original blog post………. 

Dogs are no longer pets. They are family members. 

Military dogs are not equipment. They are fellow service members. U.S. Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (2/7), Regimental Combat Team 7 patrol through local Afghan settlements in Montakee, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2013. The Marines of 2/7 utilized equipment like improvised explosives detection dogs, in support of International Security Assistance Forces. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert J. Reeves)

Our military, our society has evolved. Some people just need to catch up. 

Of course this issue should have been addressed with the Canine Members of the Armed Service Act, but the provision that would have recognized our military working dogs as actual members of the armed service was removed from the act. 

I’ve still not heard back from Senator McCain’s office to see if what I heard was true. So I can’t confirm or deny that Senator McCain actual sank this provision of the act.   

So my carefree and fun post full of handsome dog pictures has turned into a bit of a fiery rant. But hey, that is pretty much my MO when I’m passionate about something……but lets transition anyway….. 

I’ve got some great posts lined up in the coming weeks. The next chapter in Daniel and MWD Bony “The Grey Wolf”, a new dog team- Kevin and MWD Bull and, finally an update on Noah and that “Stubborn Puppy” MWD Chuck.

A U.S. Marine with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (2/7), Regimental Combat Team 7, speaks to Diamon, an improvised explosives detection dog (IDD), near settlements in Montakee, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2013. The Marines of 2/7 utilized IDDs during their patrol as a counter measure to explosive threats. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert J. Reeves/ Released)

A U.S. Marine with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (2/7), Regimental Combat Team 7, speaks to Diamon, an improvised explosives detection dog (IDD), near settlements in Montakee, Afghanistan, Feb. 10, 2013. The Marines of 2/7 utilized IDDs during their patrol as a counter measure to explosive threats. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert J. Reeves/ Released)

Yes, I also have the final chapter in Marc, MWD Anax and, MWD Dark as well as a post were I bear my soul and admit all my flaws. (this one is my wife’s favorite post so far!) 

One last thing. I went over 1,000 subscribers on the site this week. Thank you all so much. Your support inspires me to keep writing and advocating for our military dogs and troops. 

Please spread the word of my site by forwarding my posts, putting them out on your Facebook and Twitter and simply mentioning the site in passing to your friends and family members. 

The first 1,000 subscribers took me just over a year. Let’s see how fast we can get the next 1,000.

On to the next 1,000!

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Military Working Dog Rambo

Military Working Dogs Have Their Day in DC!

Back on March 7, 2011 my post informed you that military working dogs are classified as equipment in the military and subsequently:

  1. Retired Military Working Dogs are stranded at their final duty station.
  2. Military Working Dogs receive no medical benefits after retirement.
  3. Military Working Dogs receive no recognition for their faithful service.

I told you that this wasn’t the military doing….rather our politicians. I asked you to write your Congressmen and encourage them to support the Canine Member of the Armed Service Act.

After playing fetch and getting a bath, military working dog Hexa relaxes in the kennel office, but isn't willing to give up her tennis ball. Her eyes are cloudy due to a neurological disorder which is causing her to slowly drift into blindness. But, at almost 11 years old, she's spent her entire lifetime serving her nation and her handlers, locating explosives during two separate deployments to Iraq, one of which included doing work in the infamous city of Fallujah. Having honorably done her duty, she'll now be expected to play fetch, sleep and be loved on by her new adoptive family.

After playing fetch and getting a bath, military working dog Hexa relaxes in the kennel office, but isn’t willing to give up her tennis ball. Her eyes are cloudy due to a neurological disorder which is causing her to slowly drift into blindness. But, at almost 11 years old, she’s spent her entire lifetime serving her nation and her handlers, locating explosives during two separate deployments to Iraq, one of which included doing work in the infamous city of Fallujah. Having honorably done her duty, she’ll now be expected to play fetch, sleep and be loved on by her new adoptive family.

You did and the act passed the House of Representatives in May.

Thank you.

Though we knew the struggle wasn’t over so I asked you to write to your Senators urging them to support this bill. You did.

Thank you

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Pospischil, 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog handler and his partner Wodan, a military working dog, train on an obstacle course at Kirkuk Regional Air Base Jan. 7, 2010. Wodan began his military career in September of 2003 at the age of 2 and has since served six years, including three deployments.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Pospischil, 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog handler and his partner Wodan, a military working dog, train on an obstacle course at Kirkuk Regional Air Base Jan. 7, 2010. Wodan began his military career in September of 2003 at the age of 2 and has since served six years, including three deployments.

This week the act passed the Senate and now our four- legged heroes are even closer to being considered members of the armed service.

The act still needs to be signed into law by the President.

There were so many forces behind this act from Lisa Phillips Founder and CEO of Retired Military Working Dog Association to Ron Aiello at United States War Dog Association to you who wrote your legislatures and demanded that this country cares for our 4- legged veterans properly.

Military working dog Max rests in a chair during his retirement ceremony March 23 in the 39th Security Forces Squadron guardmount room. To celebrate Max's distinguished career, members of Team Incirlik, to include many defenders, crowded the guardmount room to pay tribute to the military working dog who aided in protecting the base and residents.

Military working dog Max rests in a chair during his retirement ceremony March 23 in the 39th Security Forces Squadron guardmount room. To celebrate Max’s distinguished career, members of Team Incirlik, to include many defenders, crowded the guardmount room to pay tribute to the military working dog who aided in protecting the base and residents.

As an Army Officer with strong ties to the Military Working Dog Community I say thank you to all that have helped.

I thought it was only appropriate, as a tribute to our retired military working dogs, to share some pictures of our retired heroes!

The featured picture at the top of the page is MWD (R) Rambo (USMC), who now resides with founder and CEO of Retired Military Working Dogs, Lisa Phillips. It was Lisa’s college paper on the subject of retired military dogs, which drew the interest of Congressman Jones, which got this whole ball rolling!Military Working Dog Rambo

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Military Working Dog Veteran

A True Call to Arms: Contact Your Senator Today!

Last Friday on my Facebook page I posted breaking news about the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act. The act, which was incorporated into the house version of the National Defense Authorization Act, passed the House of Representatives handily.

 

This is wonderful news, but it is NOTover yet! Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act is far from being reality. The next step for the bill is parallel legislation in the Senate.

According to www.Govtrac.us, the bill only has a 4% chance of passing the Senate. (It should be noted that they gave the bill a 2% chance of passing the House, so we have doubled our odds!)

The bottom line, though, is that the fight to get this bill passed isn’t over.

Our military dogs don’t have a voice. They need you to contact your senators to tell them that the current policies are antiquated. Below are the senators who have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill:

Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR] (joined Mar 05, 2012)

Sen. Jon Tester [D-MT] (joined Mar 08, 2012)

Sen. Mark Begich [D-AK] (joined Mar 12, 2012)

Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY] (joined Mar 19, 2012)

Sen. Patty Murray [D-WA] (joined Mar 27, 2012)

Sen. Kent Conrad [D-ND] (joined Mar 28, 2012)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI] (joined Apr 24, 2012)

Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-VT] (joined May 16, 2012)

Sen. Tom Udall [D-NM] (joined May 17, 2012)

Military Working Dog Anax hugging Marc

Anax lost his leg fighting for his country. He now has three. Specialist Marc Whittaker wants to adopt Anax. Anax saved Marc’s life countless times in Afghanistan. If this bill doesn’t pass then Marc may not be able to afford the veterinarian bills to care for Anax.

One of the problems is that there is a lot of misinformation out there, even from places that mean well. They are confusing the issue. Even the ASPCA and Save a Vet, plus several people on change.org, have gotten it wrong.

I mentioned this weekend on my Facebook page that I had written the ASPCA about their call to arms for this bill. An email that the ASPCA sent out began with Military Dogs Should Be Adopted, Not Abandoned.

As I told them in my correspondence,

“Your call to arms is a complete misrepresentation of this wonderful act. It is also an insult to the thousands of military dogs that have been adopted by wonderful people since the Robby Law was passed. Please change it to accurately depict the purpose of the act.

An online petition has already been started on www.change.org in which they quote your call to arms. You are promulgating an idea that our dogs aren’t adopted or cared for when they retire. This is false. The act is meant to enhance this care and streamline their adoption and properly care for them upon retirement.

The military dog program is full of animal lovers. Your call to arms is an insult to us all and prevents us from supporting your initiatives to garner support for the act.

Again, I urge you to do the right thing here. Set the record straight. I would love to jump on your bandwagon through my website.”

Writing the email and sending it made me feel better. But did it do anything? One thing I know is that I can’t find that misinformed call to arms on the ASPCA web site any longer.

Military Working Dog Honza with doggles

Military Working Dog Honza is currently in Afghanistan fighting for our country. Does “Honza Bear” look like equipment?

OK, a little more ranting for you.

Even Save a Vet, which is a great organization, got it wrong on their petition. They have almost 1,100 supporters.

And this week I wanted to start a petition on www.change.org in support of the bill but was disappointed with the petitions already created to support the act. They had such calls to arms as:

  1. Help our military get working dogs adopted, instead of euthanized! (652 supporters; started by Ilya Bukshteyn)
  2. Congress: Stop euthanizing military dogs — instead allow the dogs to be adopted (only three supporters)
  3. Retire Military Dogs – Don’t Kill Them (956 supporters; started by Annie Hughes)

There are many more and I could go on with my list, but I think you all get my gist. I didn’t start my own for three reasons:

-I questioned their utility

-I was just disheartened to see so many BS ones already on the site

-I didn’t want to further confuse folks

 

A United States Marine and his MIlitary Working Dog

Improvised Explosive Detector Dog Ace is a living, breathing Marine.

The true story is that military dogs have been saved from being euthanized at the end of their service since Robby’s Law was adopted by Congress in 2000. Since then, it is the law of the land that military working dogs be available for adoption by their trainers, their trainer’s famlies, or by qualified members of the public.

The problem now is that, although there are many people who want to adopt these dogs, their veterinary care and transport to their new homes can carry prohibitive costs. This law would change that by making these valuable dogs no longer pieces of equipment but “canine members of the armed forces. It also provides for their care and transport through fundraising efforts, not through additional costs to the taxpayer. An awesome thing about the ASPCA is this link. They have made it so easy to send a letter to your Senator. So please click on this link and write your senator. You can do it in less than one minute. Can you spare one minute for a four-legged vet?

I urge you all to help me spread the truth about the purpose of this bill. If you know any of these people or know someone from Save a Vet, please urge them to correct their petitions. Please have them contact me and I will be happy to rewrite it for them.

Military Working Dog Chuck in Afghanistan

Military Working Dog Chuck recently re-deployed from Afghanistan. He spent a year sniffing out explosives. He saved countless Soldiers lives. He is a Soldier.

OK, lets take it back to what is important—the dogs! Please write you Senators. Use this link to do so. It takes about a minute!

Please comment and let me know you sent a letter to your Senator!

Should I start my own petition?

Is there any utility to this www.change.org site?

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Soldiers and MIlitary Working Dogs at Forward Operating Base Wilson

Urgent! Write Your Legislators!

Ask them to support the bill that recognizes military working dogs as members of the armed forces!

Currently working dogs are classified as equipment in the military.

  1. Retired Military Working Dogs are stranded at their final duty station.
  2. Military Working Dogs receive no medical benefits after retirement.
  3. Military Working Dogs receive no recognition for their faithful service.
Military Working Dog Anax looking up

I lost a leg for my country. Do I look like equipment?

Let me tell you what this means from a Soldier’s perspective. Let’s take our hero Military Working Dog Anax who lost a leg fighting for his country? Specialist Marc Whittaker and Anax are currently stationed in Germany. Marc is adopting the retired military working dog. Transporting Anax back to the United States could cost Marc anywhere from $500-$1000. If you have ever been a specialist in the military as I have, you know Marc’s pockets aren’t lined with cash.

We in the Army are retiring our military dogs sooner than ever before. Many of these four-legged troopers have multiple combat deployments. Currently the person who is kind enough to adopt these heroes must pay their bills.

How is Specialist Marc Whittaker going to pay for the future care of the three-legged Soldier that took a bullet meant for him? I have talked to many senior leaders in the Department of Defense Military Working dog program and every single one on them told me a story of their troops who weren’t able to adopt their working dogs because they wouldn’t be able to afford the veterinarian costs. Can you imagine having to give up your own dog because you can’t afford the veterinarian bills? This happens to our service members all the time.

You may ask yourself why should we give dogs recognition in the form of a medal or award? Shouldn’t we just give them some extra Milkbones?

My answer: Medals are simple trinkets. I have a drawer full of them. But the symbolism behind them is what is important. The working dog may not quite understand the medal, but their fellow service members will. Service members need to know that their fellow warrior’s commitment and sacrifices, whether they be two-legged or four-legged, will be recognized. They need to know that their sacrifices have meaning.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these four-legged warriors’ contribution to the fight is unquantifiable. If a working dog finds one 40 lb. Improvised Explosive Device and prevents it from being detonated, how many fellow warriors’ lives and limbs did he or she just save?

Airman and MIlitary Working Dog

When I oversaw the Working Dog Program for United States Forces in Afghanistan from May 2010 to May 2011, workings dogs prevented thousands of IEDs and other explosives from being used against our troops. These four-legged warriors risk their lives. They ask for only one thing in return: the unconditional love of their handler.

Commanders on the ground have recognized these four-legged service member’s contributions and many times have presented them unofficial hero’s medals. But they are not officially recognized by the Department of Defense.

Fortunately for our Warriors, organization such as United States War Dog Association, Retired Military Working Dog Assistance and Military Working Dog Adoptions have stepped in to provide support in all facets of these three inequalities—medals, vet care, transport—for our four-legged Veterans.

So why does the military treat their dogs as equipment and not provide for the four-legged warriors as they do for their two-legged? Federal law ties the military’s hands.

We can change these antiquated laws, though, thanks to the dedicated work of the three organizations mentioned above. This past week, Congressmen Walter Jones (R-NC) and Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the bipartisan bill now titled the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act. The bill reclassifies military working dogs as canine members of the armed forces and states that they shall not be classified as equipment.

The three main tenets of the bill are:

1. Retirement and Adoption of Military Working Dogs:

Authorizes the Secretary of the appropriate military department to transport retiring military working dogs to the 341st Training Squadron or another suitable location for adoption, if no suitable adoption is available at the military facility where the dog is located.

2. Veterinary Care for Retired Military Working Dogs:

Directs the Secretary of Defense to establish and maintain a system to provide for the veterinary care of retired military working dogs beginning on the date on which the dog is adopted.

3. Recognition of Service of Military Working Dogs:

Directs the Secretary of Defense to create a decoration or other appropriate recognition to recognize military working dogs that are killed in action or perform an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act in service to the United States.Marine and his Military Working Dog

I borrowed this quote with permission from Maria Goodavage, editor at Dogster and author of the forthcoming book Soldier Dogs who wrote an excellent piece on the legislation:

“’It is time that we as a nation recognize the importance and contributions of Military Working Dogs, and this can be done by elevating their status to Canine Members of the Armed Force,’ said Representative Walter B. Jones (R-NC), who introduced the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). ‘These dogs are a crucial asset to the US Armed Forces and have saved countless American lives during the past decade of conflict.’”

As a United States Army Officer, I say thank you to these two fine men and all the organizations that have worked so hard to introduce this bill.

If you want to help the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act pass, let your senator or representative know you support it. Click here for a list of contact information for U.S Senators and congresspersons in the U.S. House of Representatives. These are the legislative IDs for the legislation. I recommend you mention these in your correspondence. House: H.R.4103. Senate: S.2134.

For more info on the bill and how to contact your representatives visit the Retired Military Working Dog Assistance Organization or visit their Facebook page. Their web site has a form letter for you to use when drafting a letter for your representative asking them to vote in favor of this bill.

What are your thoughts on this legislation?

Who out there knows of a case that this law would help when passed?

Please share your thoughts and comments.

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