K9’s in service for the United States military play an important role in keeping Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines safe from improvised explosive devices (IED’s). Now two military K9s’ who are responsible for saving thousands of lives in Afghanistan are in danger of being put to sleep because senior military officials claim the K9s’ can’t be re-homed.
Kevin and Dazz, both of whom are Belgian shepherds, operated in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, tracking down IED’s, and escorting their human counterparts on numerous deadly missions. Despite their gentle nature, senior military officials claim the dogs are too aggressive to be placed in a new home. A handler who worked with these wonderful animals has stated, “We’ll do anything to save them.” Another handler who is equally upset and heading up a campaign on Change.org to save the dogs said, “This is such a cruel way to treat these animals that have given us so much.”
Both K9’s are scheduled to be put to sleep next week despite all the lives they have saved. In response to this seemingly barbaric act, former soldiers and handlers who worked with these animal heroes have drafted a formal letter to the commanding officer at the Defense Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray, Leics. If you would like to participate in the effort to save Kevin and Dazz, you can sigh the petition here on Change.org.
Experienced handlers who have been extensively trained to work with dogs like Kevin and Dazz have had their requests denied to take the dogs in with their commanders holding firm in their assessment that the dogs are too dangerous to be put into a new home. One handler speaking on the matter said, “People who worked closely with these dogs are devastated at the plans — they’ve begged to save them all. There’s no protocol to decide if a dog is put down. The commanding officer decides and that’s it. It’s such a cruel way to treat animals that have given so much. We’ll do anything to save these dogs. We’ll go to Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson if need be.”
Kevin and Dazz are both nine years old, served on several tours to Afghanistan and then spent about four years working with dog handler trainees at the Defense Animal Center. After they were determined to be too old for service, the proper procedure is to have the dogs go through a detraining program to see if they can be placed in a new home. However, after a civilian was bit, the commanding officer took a hard line position to having Kevin and Dazz put to sleep.
Helping to lead the effort to save Kevin and Dazz and other military dogs like them, British Special Air Service legend Andy McNab is urging people to sign a petition to save these four legged heroes. The only response that the U.S. military has provided is, “Wherever possible we endeavor to re-home military working dogs. Sadly there are occasions where this is not possible.”
At any given time there are about 2,500 service dogs working across the various branches of service. Of these 2,500 service dogs, 700 of them are deployed overseas. Dr. Stewart Hilliard, Chief of Military War Dog evaluation and training at Lackland Airforce Base said back in 2013, “These dogs are among our most effective counter measures against terrorists and explosives.” Considering this, these dogs should not be treated as non-feeling inanimate objects.
Despite dogs like Kevin and Dazz being retired, they are extremely valuable. After completing all required training to be able to detect IED’s, bomb sniffing dogs are worth about $150,000 USD. After training, these dogs have a statistical success rate of 98% when it comes to finding IED’s and protecting their two legged counter parts.
Currently, the petition to save Kevin and Dazz has 314,767 signatures and aim to generate at least 500,000. Please take the time and go to Change.org and sign the petition.
It is imperative that Americans support these dogs just as much as they support our troops coming home from combat. In many instances if it weren’t for these dogs many more of our service members would be killed. The least we can do is show our appreciation and combat inept commanders who treat these dogs simply as property.