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Marine Corps Looking To Find Adoptive Homes For War Dogs


Maxx, an improvised explosive device detector dog, stands on the legs of his handler, Lance Cpl. Stephen Mader, during a convoy in southern Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 26, 2012.

The Marine Corps' elite improvised explosive device-sniffing dog program is winding down along with the war in Afghanistan.

The program, which at its height boasted 650 IED detection dogs (called IDDs) is now down to roughly 130 dogs. About half of the 100 or so dogs not currently in Afghanistan need to find adoptive homes.

Bill Childress, head of the Marines’ Military Working Dog program, explained to Marine Corps Times:

“We’re coming out of Afghanistan right now, and we don’t need that many dogs. It’s a little costly, so we are going to do away with the capability of the dogs. But we’ll still retain the knowledge and everything there.”

Although civilian families are eligible to adopt these very special dogs, Childress says the dogs' Marine Corps handlers get first dibs:

“I have adopted a lot of dogs to injured handlers. As a matter of fact, we just did one last week or it’s getting ready to be adopted to a double amputee. He’s requested his dog, and to me, that gets first priority.”

According to the nonprofit group Pets for Patriots, all military working dog adoptions are handled through the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Adoption Program at Joint Base San Antonio at Lackland in Texas.

For more information on Military Working Dog adoptions, click here.

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Avatar for user 'progressivebuthey'

progressivebuthey | June 4, 2014 at 2:50 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I hope the program monitors who gets these dogs who served the country and protected soldiers.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 4, 2014 at 4:10 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm glad the program is winding down, but it is inappropriate to use dogs in war.

Subjecting dogs (or any animal) to terrible battlefield conditions, stress, horrific injuries, and death is inhumane and cruel.

It is time the military working dog program be eliminated permanently.

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Avatar for user 'ambro13'

ambro13 | June 5, 2014 at 9:08 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Californiadefender, if it wasn't for the military using dogs we would have lost a lot more of our men and women. The dogs enjoy the work they do. Try reading to book k-9 hero's and do your research on how important the dogs are to our troops.

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Avatar for user 'ambro13'

ambro13 | June 5, 2014 at 9:09 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago


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Avatar for user 'beachbummn'

beachbummn | June 5, 2014 at 9:18 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Californiadefender, have you served this great Country? I have. I just retired after 20 years. Our MWDs save lives. They are partners. They are Soldiers!! They are experts in their field. The MWD program will never end. Not only are they used in combat, they are used on in Garrison for Narc detection, Explosive detection, and Patrol. They are not mistreated, as a matter of fact they are very well cared for and loved by their handlers. Do some research!!!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 5, 2014 at 9:41 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

beachbummn, I am not saying I agree with CaliforniaDefender 100% on this issue, but I think he raises some good points.

I'm not sure why your first question is to ask if he has served in the military. I don't know why that would matter, I think tax paying citizens who pay for our military have the same rights to express our views and opinions about what the military does as those who serve in it.

Second, the dogs are not soldiers, unless you consider them drafted soldiers. They don't have a willful choice to sign-up for this.

I am sure they are loved very much by people who work with them, but subjecting them to this kind of environment does have to be stressful. I don't think the program should be eliminated if it saves soldier's lives, but I do think we need to be honest here - this isn't an all around feel-good story as I see it portrayed all the time in the media; these animals do undergo a great amount of stress.

You have attributed human characteristics to these dogs when you call them soldiers and experts in their field - does this also mean they can suffer some of the same human disadvantages too such as PTSD? And if so, what is done to help them?

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 5, 2014 at 12:45 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

ambro13 and beachbummn,

I am a veteran and disagree with using military working dogs.

They may have been considered soldiers by their handlers, but everyone else (especially the Defense Department) considers them nothing more than tools.

In fact they were classified as "surplus equipment" until recently (due to massive public pressure that was changed) and euthanized at the end of their "useful life".

Military working dogs may save a few lives, but it isn't worth the pain and suffering countless dogs go through. There are plenty of electronic systems that can be used against IEDs now that are far more effective. But dogs are cheap and expendable which is why their use continues.

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Avatar for user 'aanne87'

aanne87 | June 6, 2014 at 8:04 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

How about instead of people putting in their two cents about what you think it right and wrong, you just say "hey, good job marine corps for getting trying to get these dogs good homes" At the end of the day the government isn't going to scroll through these comments and realize people don't agree with their practices and suddenly change. If you want them to change then do something about it besides posting comments on articles. If you aren't willing to do that then and don't appreciate what they are trying to do for these dogs then just don't say anything at all.
I think it's great that they are trying to get them with marine handlers. People that have been through what they have, and they're trained to deal with those dogs. It makes sense and I'm glad they are finding them homes at all, versus just sending them to a shelter or putting them down.

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Avatar for user 'army_vet'

army_vet | June 7, 2014 at 9:53 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

@Pekingduck, according to a recent article in National Geographic, it is estimated that around 5% of military working dogs have PTSD.

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Avatar for user 'snookyvegas'

snookyvegas | June 12, 2014 at 2:24 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Please save your political comments for a more appropriate website. Pets for Patriots is trying to find homes for these dogs -- just like a regular animal rescue group would. If you are an animal lover/supporter, you should appreciate that.

I support PFP and will continue to do so and send them money through the combined federal campaign.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | June 12, 2014 at 2:55 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I would rather have a dog die than a human. That is why we test drugs on animals, not humans. Humans are more important. If I wanted a good dog I would get one of these warbabies.

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