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Retired Military Dogs Protected
Dogs to be adopted rather than euthanized under new law
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Text of New Law

Dateline 11/20/00

U.S. Military dogs too old to continue their duty can now be adopted rather than put to death according to a law signed by President Clinton on Nov 6.

Under the new law -- H.R. 5314 -- sponsored in Congress by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland), the commander of the dog's last duty unit will, in consultation with the unit veterinarian, decide whether the dog is suitable for adoption.

Dogs found suitable will available for adoption by law enforcement agencies, former handlers and trainers, or other persons determined, "capable of humanely caring for these dogs." 

The law also requires anyone receiving a retired military dog to agree not to hold the government responsible for injury, damage or other damages resulting from ownership of the dog.

Dogs not adopted or euthanized for medical reasons will be sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX for use in training dog handlers. 

Working dogs have been in official use by the U.S. Military since World War II. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a group calling itself "Dogs for Defense" joined with the American Kennel Association in soliciting American dog owners to donate their dogs to the Army Quartermaster Corps. During service in WWII, dogs donated by the public were credited with saving the lives of hundreds of American soldiers during combat.

Over the years, military dogs have served on their own or with human partners as messengers, scouts, sentries and even mine detectors. Today, combat dogs are trained to find and alert troops to booby traps, mines, ambushes, and to act as decoys in drawing enemy fire. Other dogs are trained to use their advanced sense of smell to search for downed airmen and locate hidden contraband in the military's drug intervention program. According to the Pentagon, more than 30,000 military dogs have served since World War II. About 1,800 dogs are now in service.

NOTE: Article 134 of the Punitive Articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) sets out penalties for members of the military found guilty of abusing any animal used in military service. For details see: Article 134--(Abusing public animal), from US Military Guide Rod Powers.


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