June 03, 2015

Wyden Introduces Bill To Bring Retired Military Dogs Home After Overseas Combat

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today introduced legislation to support veterans and military dog handlers by ensuring that military working dogs come home to the United States after they have been relieved from their service in combat roles overseas.

The Military Working Dog Retirement Act of 2015 would require the Department of Defense to arrange and pay for transportation of trained military dogs to the United States when their service abroad has been deemed no longer necessary, including because of injury. Currently, military working dogs are often left for adoption in the country where their service ends. Handlers and veterans who wish to reunite with their dogs generally have to cover the costs of bringing them back to the United States.

“The bond between these military working dogs and their handlers is unique,” Wyden said. “By bringing these dogs that have served alongside our men and women in uniform back to the United States, this bill can provide assistance to veterans while supporting the close bond between these dogs and our soldiers returning home.”

The Defense Department estimates there are about 2,000 dogs currently working in the various branches of the military. United States military dogs are used in combat to sniff for roadside bombs and other explosive devices. Retired military dogs can require special care upon retirement and trained handlers often can best accommodate those unique needs.

Paws Assisting Veterans Service Dogs (PAVE), headquartered in Cornelius, Oregon, helps train service dogs for veterans who return to the United States with mental or physical disabilities and works to inform the public about the benefits working dogs can provide. Michelle Nelson, founder of PAVE and a certified professional dog trainer, expressed support for the bill introduced today.

“Military working dogs have put their lives on the line for our military and deserve to be transported back to the U.S. to be reunited with their handlers,” Nelson said. “It is high time to acknowledge and honor the work these dogs do for and with our military.”