Retiring Military K-9 Heroes Policy Desperately Need Adoption Revisions
Concerning Retiring Military K-9:
One phone call made the difference between life and death for 10 year old Military Working Dog (MWD) Benny B163. It was November 29, 2007, and MWD Benny B163, a lithe, active 10 year-old German Shepherd Narcotics Detection/Patrol dog had just been scheduled for euthanasia the following week.
Benny received his “stay of execution” when now-owner Deborah Kandoll made the call to Langley AFB, Virginia, on that very day trying to locate a Retiring Military K-9 available for adoption. After 50 phone calls, with 30 of them being wrong numbers given by well-meaning base and post operators, Kandoll had finally located a retiring MWD Hero to give a loving Forever Home.
Although the Military Working Dog Adoption Bill H.R. 5314, was passed in 2000, most Americans remain unaware that they can adopt these unsung MWD Hero dogs after their service days are over. The bill provides for adoption of Retiring Military K-9 working dogs by their handlers, law enforcement agencies and by qualified civilians able to provide the care and conditions these animals need.
Though this MWD Adoption Bill should guarantee these courageous war heroes a Forever Home and soft place to land, valid problems exist which are capable of preventing such an ending. Many times heartbroken handlers are unable to adopt their former partners owing to today’s rapid tempo of multiple deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Law enforcement agencies are not routinely made aware of the availability of these highly-trained animals, and civilians do not know HOW to find which MWDs are coming up for retirement.
As in Kandoll's case, there were no readily accessible MWD Facility Contact numbers to easily locate Retiring Military K-9's. Sadly, some adoption-suitable MWDs fall through the cracks into euthanasia for want of an adoptive home as MWD Benny nearly did!
For this reason, Benny’s owner, Deborah Kandoll in March 2008, created the website Military Working Dog Adoptions, which is full of MWD facility Contact Numbers and informative tips so civilians can navigate through the often frustrating and discouraging Retiring MWD adoption process. Local military installations may be contacted to see if older MWD veterans coming up for retirement might be available for civilian adoption. The link for direct contact with many U.S. Military Working Dog Facility Contact numbers is www.militaryworkingdogadoptions.com
Subsequently, Military Working Dog Adoptions also transported retired MWD Rik and MWD Dexter back to the US from Hawaii and Italy, respectively, as “pets” after their retirement. Even though MWDs are considered “bonafide military members” during their careers, a human soldier's “return to home station” does not apply to our K-9 Veterans once they have retired!
Kandoll is actively seeking four policy changes which would require the military to improve conditions for Retiring Military K-9 Heroes by doing the following:
• Implement a Standardized Operating Procedure among all the services regarding MWD Adoptions.
• Set a standardized length of time for the retiring MWD’s paperwork being processed through Lackland AFB.
• Make it MANDATORY to list all adoption-suitable MWDs world-wide on the
• Make it MANDATORY for all adopted OCONUS (OVERSEAS) MWDs to receive transport back to the U.S. via military air. As it now stands, retired OCONUS (OVERSEAS) MWDs must be transported at adoptive owner’s expense as a “pet”! The grim reality is that if a MWD is retired at an overseas military installation and is not adopted because of prohibitive transport costs, euthanasia is the usual course of action.
In addition, Kandoll strongly urges concerned, dog-loving Americans to contact the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz at 1400 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1400, requesting the aforementioned changes as well as requesting answers as to why such inefficiency and poor administration of the current Retiring Military K-9 Adoption program is allowed to continue to exist!
Kandoll’s own adopted MWD Benny B163, through the Providential timing of that one telephone call, now lives a retired life befitting his ten years of devoted military service.
Through their lives of selfless service, every unsung K-9 Hero faithfully upholds this promise in our nation’s defense… My eyes are your eyes to watch And protect you and yours. My ears are your ears to hear And detect evil minds in the dark. My nose is your nose to scent The invader of your domain And…so YOU may LIVE… MY LIFE is also yours…
Hero MWDs who languish in kennels for 23 hours a day for three, six, and ten months at a time while waiting for their adoption paperwork to be processed are subject to the “Solitary Confinement” befitting criminals -- not that of faithful, devoted military K-9s who have spent their whole lives in defense of this nation! They deserve to be adopted with a MINIMUM of bureaucratic red tape in order that they might live out their remaining years with dignity in a loving family!
There is NO DOUBT that dog-loving Americans could change the current realities many Retiring Military K-9's face. Only in the UNITY of our response to the situations many MWDs are forced to experience, will we succeed. Join together to shine the spotlight of discovery on today's insufficient retiring MWD Adoption Program!
Let those in power hear our unified voices as we proclaim “Support our Troops” applies to our K-9 Troops, too! After all, many soldiers are enjoying their TODAYS and planning their TOMORROWS because of what an MWD did for them YESTERDAY!
By Deborah Kandoll
2821A Quay Loop Holloman AFB, NM 88330
575-415-3137 or 575-551-6658