ASPCA Commends U.S. House of Representatives for Passing Legislation to Help Retired Military Dogs

Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act creates new designation for retired military dogs and sets up a system of care
May 18, 2012

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the "Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act." This legislation streamlines the adoption process for military dogs and ensures veterinary care for retired dogs at no expense to taxpayers.  Originally introduced in the House by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., the language was passed by the House today as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

Military dogs effectively perform a large number of important tasks that can be difficult, if not impossible, for humans. Despite their unique importance, they are currently classified by the Department of Defense as "equipment."  Not only does this classification trivialize the dogs' contributions, but it also makes it difficult to transport retired dogs from foreign locations back to the United States for adoption. 

This legislation reclassifies military dogs as "Canine Members of the Armed Forces" and bars the military from considering the dogs as equipment. The bill also streamlines the adoption process for retired dogs and directs the Department of Defense to provide for their veterinary care, paid for and administered by a private non-profit entity. 

"Military dogs are true heroes—they play a critical role in our nation's defense," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "Military dogs should be humanely trained and responsibly cared for during and after their important service to their country. We thank the House of Representatives, and Rep. Jones, for ensuring good care for retired military dogs."

"It is time that we as a nation recognize the importance and contributions of military working dogs," said Representative Jones. "And this can be done by elevating their status to Canine Members of the Armed Forces. These dogs are a crucial asset to the U.S. Armed Forces and have saved countless American lives during the past decade of conflict."

The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act is still awaiting consideration in the Senate (S. 2134), where companion legislation has been introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. For more information about this legislation and to join the ASPCA's Advocacy Brigade, please visit