When U.S. military working dogs are active in the military, they receive some of the best veterinary care available. As soon as a MWD becomes a retired military working dog and is adopted, the government wipes its hands clean and no longer provides health benefits. Many feel like our government is failing our canine veterans, the very same U.S. military working dogs who have saved countless American service members’ lives, by not offering them retirement or health benefits. How do you feel about this issue?
U.S. Military Working Dogs Save Lives
Military dogs perform numerous duties such as identifying enemy locations, seeking out bombs, and protecting bases. Like their human counterparts, these MWDs perform dangerous work which often leads to injury and death.
And also like other military service members, our military working dogs are credited with saving countless U.S. lives. In fact, these combat dogs are actively targeted by the Taliban because of their importance to our U.S. military missions.
Their selfless sacrifice to save human lives, their dedication to our U.S. troops, and their willingness to serve our nation has led many to start campaigning for the United States government and military to take better care of our canine veterans.
The Story of Military Working Dog Baddy
The first MWD story we’d like to share with you tells the story of Baddy and his Marine handler Charlsie Hoffman who later adopted Baddy. The canine veteran was diagnosed with prostate cancer and Hoffman found herself in a dilemma on how to pay for treatment. You can read Baddy’s story here and watch the video below as well.
Baddy wasn’t just any dog. He was a retired military working dog, or MWD. As a member of the Marine Corps’ HMX-1 canine squadron, Baddy had been responsible for safeguarding the presidential helicopter, Marine One, on roughly 200 domestic and international missions. Hoffman, a Marine herself, had been Baddy’s handler on more than 25 of those missions. Trained to sniff for explosives and attack assailants, Baddy had spent eight years of his life personally protecting both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, and he had received the finest 24-hour veterinary care while doing it — at no cost to Hoffman or any of his other handlers.
But as soon as Hoffman adopted Baddy, the government stopped supporting him — the same as any other retired MWD. No transportation from the HMX-1 kennel in Quantico, Va., to a base closer to his new home in Los Angeles. No medical coverage to defray the cost of treating the hip dysplasia he’d developed while in the Marines. And certainly no $12,000 for combating the cancer that was now killing him.
U.S. Military Working Dog Flo
Here’s another touching story of a military working dog facing an uphill battle when it comes to the canine veteran’s health. Flo served in Afghanistan protecting Marines. Now as a retired military working dog, she lives with her Marine handler who is facing a hefty medical bill to ensure Flo is healthy and pain-free.
She needs surgery that could cost around $4,000. Crangle made an appointment for ACL surgery in early August, and though he’s a University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee student who works in a bar, he said he’ll figure out some way to pay the tab.
While Flo was serving in the military, she had access to top veterinary care. But unlike other retired service members, there’s no VA medical system for war dogs.
“If they need veterinarian services, I think the government should do that…,” said Jerry Witt , an Army dog handler who credits the two dogs he worked with in Vietnam for saving his life. “They have served, and served with honor, and they deserve to be taken care of just like any other veteran.”
Read the entire story of Flo here.
Also, make sure to check out these great military working dog videos honoring our four-legged heroes on K9 Veterans Day.