Retired Military Working Dogs Need New Homes

Did you know that while dogs have served alongside U.S. soldiers in each major conflict, they were not officially recognized until the Second World War?


They are trained to help with drug, weapon, and bomb detection; tracking; and attacking an enemy.

There are approximately 2,500 Military Working Dogs (MWDs) in active service today, including around 700 overseas. While many service dogs are German Shepherds, there are also different breeds serving, including Labrador Retrievers and Belgian Malinois. These dogs are known for being energetic, smart, and loyal.

Also shocking is that until November 2000, military dogs were abandoned or euthanized after they “retired.” But thanks to legislation passed in 2000, handlers and their families can adopt MWDs at the end of their service. If not, law enforcement can decide to adopt them; and then if they don’t, the dogs are placed with a caring family.

Military working dog adoption trend concerns Air Force

“While 90 percent of canine veterans end up with their handlers, a few end up available for adoption,” according to PawBuzz.

But a new trend is concerning Lackland Air Force Base officials in San Antonio, Texas. Older K9s are getting overlooked when they come up for military retirement.

The Air Force asks for help

The Air Force is now asking people to consider adopting retired military K9s. And for good reason. These dogs have given most of their lives to helping the U.S. protect its citizens, and they deserve a wonderful home in retirement.

Most retired MWDs usually retire between ages 10 and 12.

Who handles retired MWD adoptions?

All military puppies are trained at Lackland Air Force Base, and the base also manages the MWD adoptions. The Transportation Security Administration also handles its own Canine Adoption Program.

There are also organizations that facilitate adoptions of contract military working dogs, including the like Mission K9 Rescue. Contract MWD are sometimes more difficult to reunite with their handlers.

“Every MWD, when they’re retiring, they do a behavioral test and an adoption test to make sure they’re not going to be food aggressive or bite a small child or chase the mailman down the street,” according to MAC Chief Petty Officer Jason Silvis, who works with MWDs at Lackland Air Force Base. “We do a wide variety of tests before we decide that the dogs are good to be adopted to the public.”

How to apply to adopt a MWD

To adopt a MWD, a family must first apply and then be interviewed by the military. Most families with children age 5 and younger won’t be able to adopt these dogs, as they just aren’t a good fit with very young children. Once approved, the family must pick up the dog in San Antonio.

Lackland places about six dogs a month. “Of the dogs that end up back at Lackland, 75percent are approved for adoption. At any given time, there can be as many as 200 approved adopters on their waitlist,” according to PawBuzz.

If you would like to adopt a retired military working dog, email [email protected] or call 210-671-6766. Now, check out the video below for more details on military working dogs.

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