Dogs in the military have been getting a lot of public attention in the media of late. A well-known fact from the infamous raid to find Osama bin Laden on May 6, 2011 is the fact the Navy Seal Team had a military dog with them. However, not all the media attention has been positive for these working canines. A recent article in The New York Times was entitled “After Duty, Dogs Suffer Like Soldiers”, talking about the negative effects of combat stress on dogs after they are retired. One surprising trend that came up in the comments section from readers was the idea that these dogs were being “treated like cattle” or that the military did “not care about them.”
The trauma faced by many of these military dogs after they are retired is assuredly very sad and heartbreaking. However, the statement that the US military does not take care of their dogs is questionable for a number of reasons.
First, the military invests a signifcant amount of money in the dogs in their care. For starters, a single military dog as a puppy alone can cost anywhere from $2000 to $4000. Adding in the requirement to raise the dog, care for him or her, and provide an intensive training schedule, a single military dog can cost the military about $60,000 per year for 10 years (the traditional retirement age of military dogs). To put this in perspective, a US Army private (E-1) only makes about $18,000 to $20,000 a year. Although the US military has a very large budget, it is not unlimited; with so much invested in a dog annual, it would be in their best interest to ensure the quality of health and life for these dogs instead of cutting corners simply to save small amounts of money.
Second, these military dogs are irreplaceable in the work they do when deployed. Everyone knows the buzz word “IED” identification and the concept of bomb sniffing that these dogs are commonly called upon to do. Having people do these jobs is near impossible because IEDs can be so well-hidden. There is a reason military dogs are constantly requested in Iraq and Afghanistan. These dogs can save the lives of their human counterparts and allow them to do their jobs. So it makes no sense why the US military would willingly or purposely throw away such a valuable ability (especially one that helped to preserve human life).
We anticipate this being a topic that you may have an opinion on. We want to hear from you dog owners, dog sitters, Seattle dog boarding facilities, dog trainers, and everyone else in the canine community. Please post in the comments below your reasons or provide links to articles that are relevant.
Blog by Rover-ite Danny