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Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act S.2134

In February of 2012, a bill was introduced into the Senate of the United States to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide certain requirements for the retirement, adoption, care, and recognition of military working dogs.  Currently, title 10 classifies canine members of the military as "equipment."  The bill named, Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act S.2134 will classify military working dogs as canine members of the Armed Forces, providing canine military many new and needed benefits.

Dating back to the Revolutionary War, dogs have been used for military service.  They have saved thousands of military personnel and citizens, increased morale, and have given their lives in many inconceivable ways to protect their human companions. Military working dogs perform critical and varied roles that go far beyond their current designation as "equipment" (112th Congress).

What exactly does equipment imply for these military dogs?  "Upon their retirement they (the dogs) fall into the "surplus equipment" category - much like any obsolete military appliance, therefore are not returned back to the United States (Singer, 2013).  Although military dogs are not euthanized when they retire, if serving outside of the United States they are not transferred back to the United States. They are given away or put-up for adoption in the location they serve to
avoid the cost of bringing them home to America.

Retirement and reclassification of military dogs, section 2583 of title 10, United States Code has been amended (112th Congress).  Military dogs are referred to as canine members of the Armed Forces. The new amendment, Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act (S. 2134) provides that if a dog should be retired, and no suitable adoption is available at the military facility where the dog is located, the dog may be transferred to the 341st Training Squadron or to another location for adoption.

Veterinary care for retired working military dog, chapter 50 of title 10, United States Code has been amended. The bill guides the Secretary to create and maintain a system that provides retired military working dogs veterinary care during the life of a dog beginning on the date on which the dog is adopted under section 2583. The contract under the subsection will be awarded to a private, nonprofit entity selected by the Secretary.

Coverage of veterinary costs will come from a variety of nonprofit entities, contributions from owners or guardians of retired military dogs, or other appropriate non-Federal sources of funds. The Federal Government will not be allowed to provide any funding to provide veterinary care.

Recognition of service of military working dogs, section1125 of title 10, United States Code has also been amended. Up until the initiative of the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act military dogs were not recognized for their service.  The new amendment states, "The Secretary of Defense shall create a decoration or other appropriate recognition to recognize military working dogs under the jurisdiction of the Secretary that are killed in action or perform an exceptional meritorious or courageous act in service to the United States" (112th Congress).

This bill has cleared Congress and is now with the Obama Administration to be signed into law.

The Pet Post would like to thank both military humans and dogs for their tireless service to our country.

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