[Editor’s Note: Last week, we linked to a story by Jonah Goldberg (which we have since taken off the Dogs page) about the plight of some military working dogs (MWD). Goldeberg’s article was shared widely and republished in countless media outlets, and many dog lovers were upset about claims that the military abandoned dogs overseas. Not so fast, say the folks at the Military Working Dogs Community, who posted this long rebuttal on their Facebook page. It seems that, at the very least, Goldberg’s story was misleading. . . .]
We’ve recently been made aware of poorly written and misinformed news articles circulating that MWDs are being left behind in war zones. This status update from Sean Lulofs should clear up any questions you have:
So many of you have been sending me many different links from numerous national media websites and homegrown blogs regarding the Department of Defense Military Working Dog (MWD) Program leaving dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please be assured, those stories are false. The DoD has 100% accountability over every MWD in the program. Please also know that it is false that contractors who are on a DoD Contract Working Dog (CWD) contract are leaving dogs behind. The contracts require those dogs to be returned to the contractor upon completion of the contract.
There is Congressional oversight of the MWD program already and every dog which is removed from service must be reported to Congress in an annual report. The report includes not only how many dogs were taken out of service but also how they were removed from service, including all euthanasias.
What is occurring with dogs in the combat theater is that members of the military are taking stray, feral dogs as pets in violation of DoD policy. There have been several members who have become sick because of violating the policy and one even died from rabies. Those dogs are being left behind because they belong there.
Another thing that is occurring is that some contractors have been working with the Afghanistan and Iraq governments to sell dogs to those countries. Some of those dogs sold have been dogs which are extremely experienced and are already in the country. However, there have been very few of these occurrences.
Why is this important to clear up?
Because there are a very large number of media outlets putting this false information out to the public. The public then becomes enraged and begins to contact their Congressmen. Once a Congressional inquiry is opened, it sets off a long chain of events which ends up putting the inquiry into the hands of the DoD MWD Program offices. Those men and women who work in those positions across the four branches of service are very busy. They are the same people who are trying to run one of the most deployed programs in the military. Every time an inquiry goes to one of those offices, everything has to stop and they have to begin the chain of events to respond to the Congressman. This can literally steal over approximately 500 man hours away for one response. Now imagine what is happening when numerous inquiries are being sent in.
There is an approximate 15 month waiting period to adopt an MWD. So there is no shortage of people wanting to adopt these dogs and you can believe that if a dog can be adopted, it is.
So please, if you see these types of stories, rest assured, our MWDs are being properly cared for.
-Question came in, I feel like a FB talk show host… LOL.
Have CWDs ever been left in Afghanistan?
– Yes, some have early on in the program. There are many reasons for this. Some CWDs were left in country to await for another handler. There were some CWDs that were euthanized due to medical conditions prohibiting their return to the United States and others were so old that they were in poor health. The CWD contracts used to not be under purview of the DoD MWD Program Manager but now all CWD contracts must be reviewed before they can be finalized for execution.