Military Dogs Considered “Equipment”?

Posted: March 7, 2012 in Dogs, Military
Tags: , , ,

Today I read a blog post written by author and U.S. Army soldier Kevin Hanrahan that was so inspirational to me (and a bit troubling) that I immediately took action. Kevin Hanrahan is author of Paws on the Ground (pending publication) about U.S. soldiers and the faithful dogs that protect them in Afghanistan. These dogs find Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and have saved countless lives.

As a proud Guardian member of the ASPCA I have a soft spot for all animals, particularly dogs (I have three of them in my family), and with Kevin Hanrahan’s permission I am sharing a snippet of his story (and a couple of great photos) here at Sharkbait Writes.

Image credit: Kevin Hanrahan, used by permission. Source - Soldier Writer: Balancing the Sword and the Pen

It has come to my attention through Mr. Hanrahan’s recent blog post that these brave and heroic dogs are officially classified as “equipment” by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Hanrahan states the following three startling facts about retired military working dogs:

  1. Retired Military Working Dogs are stranded at their final duty station.
  2. Military Working Dogs receive no medical benefits after retirement.
  3. Military Working Dogs receive no recognition for their faithful service.

I found this unbelievable that military working dogs were treated so rashly after retirement. Many of these dogs have died protecting our soldiers. The first thing I thought about was the contrast between dogs serving in our local police departments and those serving in the military. From what I understand police dogs are considered members of the police force and are treated as officers. Why would federal law classify these heroic dogs as mere pieces of military equipment?

I encourage you to please visit Kevin Hanrahan’s complete story on his blog by clicking on the link below. In it will be a call to action, which I have already taken part of. Let your voice be heard.

Click Here: Support the Bill that Recognizes Military Working Dogs as Members of the Armed Forces!

Thank you for taking the time to read Kevin’s post… this hard-working pooch will thank you! 🙂

Image credit: Kevin Hanrahan, used by permission. Source - Soldier Writer: Balancing the Sword and the Pen

  1. dcmcmillen says:

    That is both shocking and disturbing. I hope Kevin Hanrahan’s story and call to action results in positive change.


    • Yeah, when I heard about this it made my stomach sick. I love dogs and one of my German Shepherds came from a litter of two police dogs that were bred after they retired. He was a solid black German Shepherd and one of the best and most loyal dogs I have ever had. Sadly, he got very ill when he only three years old and passed away back in ’99.

      I hope things change soon and the military working dogs are treated more like members of the armed forces by the DoD.


  2. danniehillll says:

    Great post by you and Kevin. Dogs have been used for countless years by the miltary from almost every country. They do save lives and are often sacrificed in lew of soldiers being lost. The sad truth is that’s their job– just as men are put in harms way to overcome the enemy. And I’d like to add that the dogs do what they do much more willingly than their counterparts.

    I’ve watched a soldier and his dog go in looking for Sappers. They went in alone and were caught in a massive explosion in an arms dump. The soldier was wounded and had to release his dog because the dog was moving around unexploded ordinance. They both survived. The normal proceedure would have been to send in a team of men and many would have died if not for the dog and his handler.

    The miltary should make more effort to see that these dogs are treated well after serving. Not sure they care if someone pins a metal on their collar or not.

    Great post, Rob.


    • Thanks for your input on the subject, Dannie. These dogs deserve more than just being labeled “equipment” and should be treated as members of the military. I read an article about a soldier who is trying to adopt the dog she served with in the military (which is 10 years old) and is having to deal with bureaucratic red tape in order to do so. She and the dog were both injured in combat and this military dog is in danger of being put down if it is unable to be adopted. That is really sad.