Guest blog by Richard Patch, Vice President of Federal Affairs, ASPCA Government Relations.
Today I had the honor of meeting one of our nation’s four-legged heroes! I was invited to the official retirement ceremony of military working dog Rambo at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, North Carolina. Rambo loyally served our country, protecting human soldiers and keeping America safe, and will enjoy his well-earned retirement in the loving home of Lisa Phillips, a former soldier and founder and CEO of the Retired Military Working Dog Assistance Organization.
Rambo will have a happy ending, but his canine colleagues are not always so lucky. Despite their heroic efforts, military working dogs (MWDs) are currently classified by the U.S. Department of Defense as “equipment.” Not only does this classification trivialize their life-saving contributions, but it also makes it difficult to transport the dogs from foreign warzones back to the United States after their service is completed so they can be adopted.
The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), reclassifies military dogs as “canine members of the armed forces” instead of equipment. The bill also simplifies the adoption process for retired military dogs and directs the military to set up a program for retired dogs’ veterinary care, at no cost to the taxpayer. It also directs the Secretary of Defense to create a decoration or other recognition for military dogs who are killed in action or perform an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act in service to their country.
We need your help to build Senate support for the bill. For the sake of our canine heroes, please contact your U.S. senators and ask them to cosponsor S. 2134, the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act. Like their human counterparts, MWDs deserve to be respected and cared for, both during and after their periods of service.
On behalf of Rambo and all our nation’s military canine heroes, thank you!