A Department of Defense report says that bomb-sniffing Army dogs were not properly cared for after coming back from duty in Afghanistan.
“You can credit these dogs with saving at least dozens of lives and probably more because they sniffed out the improvised explosive devices, the roadside bombs, so they risked their own lives saving the troops who otherwise might have walked over them or ran over them with their vehicles,” said Reuters correspondent Scot Paltrow.
The DoD released the report on March 1 dealing with the results of the Army’s Tactical Explosive Detection Dog program. The program trained and utilized dogs from 2010 to 2014.
“Once these dogs finished their tour of duty they were brought back to the United States and the Army essentially neglected them. There was no attempt to find good homes for the dogs. The dogs often were left in kennels for up to 11 months and they were mistreated through neglect and lack of care,” said Paltrow.
Dogs in the military are normally overseen by the Air Force’s 341st Training Squadron. Due to the short duration of the Army’s temporary program, the dogs did not go through the Air Force but were employed by the Army via a special contract.
The report found that once the program was over and the dogs were out of work, adoption applications were not prioritized, the Secretary of the Air Force did not do enough to manage the process of the dog’s return to civilian life, and the Army did not have a plan for the dogs after service, whether that be to release them or utilize them for further duty. The report also cited errors in tracking where some of the dogs ended up.
“The Army and the Defense Department actually have a whole series of rules and regulations for dealing with dogs and nearly all of these apparently were violated,” said Paltrow.
The report included suggestions for better tracking, management, and compliance with regulations for future programs utilizing dogs.