WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, May 24, 2016 — Despite the passage of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with language supported by American Humane mandating that our heroic military working dogs be returned to U.S. soil upon retirement, and that their human handlers and their families be given first right of adoption, investigations by the media and Congressman Richard Hudson of North Carolina indicate that hundreds of soldiers say the Army adopted out their military dogs without contacting them.
“After serving their country and saving the lives of an estimated 150-200 servicemen and women in the course of their careers, these dogs deserve to be reunited with their handlers here at home, where they can continue to save lives by helping their Battle Buddies cope with Post-Traumatic Stress and other hidden wounds of war,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, which fought for years to have the law passed. “We owe it to our military heroes – on both ends of the leash – to give them the support and retirement they so richly deserve, and it is of the utmost importance that this situation be remedied immediately. We as a nation need to step up for our brave K-9 Battle Buddy teams who have benefited and will continue to benefit from their service together.”
Prior to the passage of the 2016 NDAA, military working dogs were not guaranteed retirement on the home front, and some were retired overseas, making them civilians and rendering them ineligible for transportation home on military aircraft. Over the past two years, American Humane has privately funded the transportation home of two dozen military working dogs and contract working dogs and helped reunite them with their former human handlers. In July of 2014, American Humane held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to shed light on the need to bring home all our veterans and press for long-overdue changes to the NDAA.
“Reuniting military working dogs with their handlers is about healing veterans and their families. There is no other acceptable option,” said Dr. Ganzert. “We need to find out what in the system is preventing these reunifications and fix it quickly.”
For many of our brave servicemen and women, the return home from war is not the end of the battle.
Every year thousands of our nation’s veterans are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, and easing back into society is difficult or even terrifying. Reuniting handlers and war dogs (who themselves can suffer from PTS) helps both heal. In this way the bond between veterans that saved lives on the battlefield now saves lives at home.
Dr. Robin Ganzert is available to comment. To arrange an interview, please call 202-677-4227 or send an email to [email protected].