Many K-9 war dogs have risked their lives for us, while others perished saving us. For that they deserve our deepest gratitude, yet, a new report shows they were mistreated and abused.
The Defense Department Inspector General said in a report on March 1 that dogs who accompanied military teams on bomb-sniffing excursions in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2014 were abused after they were discharged from the military.
According to the release, some of the K-9 war dogs were left in kennels for up to 11 months, mistreated and neglected or euthanized for no apparent reason. And for those dogs who did have a chance at a second chapter in their life by being adopted to families, the military conducted no screening. With so many of these working animals suffering from PTSD, new owners may not have been equipped to handle them.
“We are glad that a report was done, but there is still much more that could have been uncovered. From what we know, the majority of the dogs were not mistreated, but the program and adoption process was mismanaged,” says Betsy Hampton, the founder of Justice for TEDD Handlers, an organization focusing on reuniting dogs with handlers, along with investigating the mishandled adoptions. “Anyone who wanted a dog was able to pick one up without being properly vetted.”
The report also states that the Army disregarded rules for how to handle military dogs, including getting the dogs from a private contractor instead of the Air Force’s 341st Training Squadron, which was a requirement.
“The Army did not use the DOD Working Dog Management system, as required by the Joint Military Working Dog Instruction and Army Regulation 190-12,” the Inspector General said in its report.
The investigation was open after army vets complained about the treatment of the dogs and being unable to reunite and adopt their K-9 partner after both had retired from active duty.
Fortunately, this program ended in 2014.
“Our hope is that this doesn’t happen again to future soldiers and their military working dogs,” says Hampton.