Army and Air Force Botched Adoptions of Military Working Dogs, Report Finds

Staff Sgt. Shawn Martinez and Bono, a tactical explosive detection dog, inspect an Afghan truck for explosives near Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt. Jacob Giardini)

By Debbie Gregory.

The Inspector General’s office has determined that the Army failed their canine soldiers once their work in Afghanistan ended.

The tactical explosive detection dogs (TEDDs) were also let down by the Air Force, as the agent for the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Program.

Lacking proper oversight of the placements and adoptions of the dogs “occurred without complete adoption suitability records and some families adopted TEDDs with possible aggressive or unsuitable tendencies,” according to the IG’s report.

The IG found cases where a dog that was trained to bite or was aggressive was given to a family with small children. Many of the dogs weren’t neutered or tracked properly.

Army data show that of 232 dogs, only 40 were adopted by their handlers.

An important thing to remember is that not all Military Working Dogs (MWDs) are TEDDs.

In 2010, the Army began developing the TEDD program to support Brigade Combat Teams deployed to Afghanistan to mitigate Improvised Explosive Device attacks and to reduce casualties resulting from Improved Explosive Devices.

The TEDD capability was developed as a nontraditional Military Working Dog program. The Army procured and trained the dogs through an Army contract rather than procuring them through the Air Force’s 341st Training Squadron, the agency authorized by regulation to procure Military Working Dogs for use by DoD components. The Army selected and trained soldiers attached to deploying units as temporary TEDD handlers only for the duration of deployment. The Army ended the TEDD Program in 2014.

Some of the TEDDs were sent to law enforcement agencies, but were never used n a security role. Additionally, an unidentified private company adopted 13 TEDDs, but ended up surrendering them to a kennel, according to the report.

In a 2016 report to Congress, the Air Force noted shortcomings in its policy allowing the dogs’ military handlers to adopt them. Breakdowns in the system for notifying handlers when their former working dogs became available for adoption resulted in missed adoption opportunities.

Congress has recommended “former handlers of MWDs as first priority for MWD adoption,” the report said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Working Dogs Receive Medals for Courage


By Debbie Gregory.

American Humane is committed to recognizing and celebrating the lifesaving contributions of the brave dogs who support our armed forces on the battlefield.

The five retired military dogs who have received the Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage to America demonstrated exceptional valor in serving our country by uncovering improvised explosive devices, sniffing out weapons caches, surviving ambushes, boosting morale, and saving lives.

“Soldiers have been relying on these four-footed comrades-in-arms since the beginning of organized warfare and today military dogs are more important than ever in keeping our service men and women safe,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “It’s estimated that each of these dogs saved 250 lives.”

Alphie worked with Marine Lance Cpl. William Herron in Helmand province and had several close calls- being shot at numerous times, almost falling out of a V-22 Osprey that was under fire. Alphie, 7, works as a member of the TSA’s elite Canine Explosives Detection Program.

Capa helped provide safety for a dozen Naval ships and 26,000 personnel — including his handler, Navy Master-at-Arms Petty Officer Second Class Megan Wooster. Wooster adopted Capa, but is getting ready for a deployment, so he is living with Wooster’s mother.

Coffee, a Chocolate Lab, has served alongside Army Sgt. 1st Class James Bennett, an explosives detection dog, for almost 10 years, including three tours in Afghanistan.

Ranger, a Black Lab, served in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he worked as an explosives-detection dog specializing in IEDs. He suffered from heatstroke in 2012 and retired from service. He is currently living with his owner, Kirk Adams, a retired police sergeant, and his wife. Ranger is battling cancer.

The award was given in memoriam to Gabe, a pound puppy from Texas, who completed more than 210 combat missions, with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq. Gabe passed away in 2013 in the arms of his adopter, retired Army Sgt. First Class Chuck Shuck. Gabe was selected as the American Kennel Club Heroic Military Working Dog in 2008 and won the top title of American Hero Dog at the annual national American Humane Hero Dog Awards in 2012.

Over 1,600 dogs currently serve in the U.S. military. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, 34 dogs have been killed in action.

American Humane is accepting nominations for the 2018 awards now. The organization’s website provides a submission form available here.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.