ON MEMORIAL DAY: SCHUMER: AFTER SERVING THEIR COUNTRY, VETERANS SHOULD BE ABLE TO EASILY ADOPT & BRING HOME THEIR MILITARY WORKING DOGS AFTER RETIREMENT; SENATE DEFENSE BILL INCLUDES KEY PROVISION SCHUMER WILL PUSH TO ALLOW FORMER SERVICE DOGS TO ENJOY THE REST OF THEIR DAYS WITH HANDLERS ON U.S. SOIL
Military Working Dogs & Their Handlers Who Serve Several Tours Abroad As Partners Share Unique Bonds, But Red Tape During Adoption Process Often Leaves Beloved Dog & Veteran Separated For Good; Once Dogs Retire It Is Very Difficult for Many Military Members To Bring Their Dogs Home for Adoption
Schumer: Every Dog Should Have Its Day and Passage of NDAA Will Be That Day for Many Retired Service Dogs Abroad
Standing with Marine Captain Jason Haag, who served three tours of combat duty across Iraq and Afghanistan and his service dog Axel, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today pushed a critical provision that is currently part of the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Specifically, the provision would authorize military dogs to return to the U.S. after their service ends. Currently, the law does not guarantee that military dogs can return home with their military handlers. This leaves many dogs in limbo, with no real home to go to after their official retirement from military service abroad. The provision Schumer is pushing would ensure that veterans and their retired military dogs can remain together. Schumer explained that if passed, the U.S. Department of Defense of Defense (DOD) would have to alert a military dog’s handler about the dog’s retirement and begin the process of transferring the dog to the rightful owner at the handler’s request. Schumer points out that these military dogs often spend long hours with their handlers, establishing incredibly strong bonds and having both service member and animal ripped away from one another when a retiring dog could otherwise return home is a sad situation that must be reversed.
“After all we know about treating debilitating post war conditions, like PTSD and other health afflictions, it makes absolute sense to keep service members joined with their service dogs,” Schumer said. “To know that after all these years, this unresolved issue stands in the way of our veterans and their beloved four-legged friends is unfair and misguided. The federal government has always stood strong with veterans, supporting them and giving veterans the resources to return home and lead productive lives. That’s exactly why Congress should support this cause, because our veterans say it helps; it’s good for them. Here we have a commonsense policy that is good for the animals that give it their all for America—and for the American heroes who love these dogs so dearly.”
A provision in the NDAA allows the Secretary of the military department to make a military animal available for adoption after retirement. The provision would allow non-combat Military dogs to be easily adopted by their handler. The only exception to this rule is if the Secretary determines that adoption of the dog by the former handler would not be in the best interest of the dog. With more than one former handlers seeking adoption of the dog, the Secretary would provide for the adoption of the dog by the former handler whose adoption would best serve the interests of the animal.
Schumer today said that the NDAA provision will help former Military handlers more easily adopt their military working dogs. Schumer explained that service dogs and their handlers share special bonds and often times, military handlers want to adopt their dogs after retirement. Schumer noted that this legislation would make that process possible.
Schumer pointed to a case in 2012 in which he helped Corporal Megan Leavey—who also stood with the Senator today in support of this plan—adopt her military working dog, Sgt. Rex. Schumer urged the Air Force to expedite the process to reunite Rex and Leavey as quickly as possible because Rex was 10 years old and in declining health. Schumer today said that all former Military handlers should be able to adopt their retired service dogs, giving them a retirement like Corporal Megan Leavey gave Rex—one of love, devotion and gratitude.