consider adopting a retired military working dog

consider adopting a retired military working dog
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jan 16 2015

Military working dogs have been used for centuries, but today they are highly trained for specialized military tasks like detecting mines and laying communication wire. Sadly, prior to the year 2000, most military working dogs were euthanized at the end of their military careers. That all changed with the passing of “Robby’s law,” which terminated the program of euthanizing military working dogs at the end of their career. Instead, retired military working dogs began to be adopted by law enforcement agencies, former handlers and other capable owners.

When it comes to pets, you know I’m all about adoption. There are so very many dogs and cats in this country who live (and die) in shelters—that’s why adoption just makes sense. And while we can’t adopt our country’s way out of having shelters (only spaying and neutering every pet can do that), each adoption counts.

If you’re interested in adopting a retired military working dog, here’s the low down!

Dogs are adopted through two programs: either they are adopted from their assigned location, or from the home base of the Military Working Dog School at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Though there are occasionally mixed breed dogs, generally these dogs are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Labrador Retrievers between the ages of 1 and 13 years old.

Dogs that are offered for adoption either did not pass the certification to become an active military working dog, or they are older military working dogs who served as field dogs or as training dogs for new dog handlers.

In a move I think is incredibly sweet, these dogs’ former handlers have first dibs. Imagine the joyous reunion of former comrades!

Now, before we go any further, I should mention the wait list. Because of the overwhelming public response, the wait for a retired military working dog is at least twelve to eighteen months. In order to bring one of these heroes into your home, you must be willing to wait.

If you’re unable to wait, but still want to help, there’s good news for you if you’re within a two hour drive of San Antonio. Fosters are needed for pups who may have a future in the military. You’ll raise a puppy from about twelve weeks old to about six months old and then watch him or her go out and protect our freedom. Bittersweet!

Finally, if you can’t wait a year for a dog and you don’t live within two hours of San Antonio, remember your local shelter, where many a sweet face (young or old) is waiting to give you a wet, sloppy kiss!

Did you adopt a retired military working dog? Share your story in the comments below!