Having posted this under Veterans Issues, I must preface this; People before animals. OK? The ill treatment of Veterans by the V.A., the suicide rate of vets back from service in the Middle East; whether from PTSD, problems coping with physical disabilities, or other trauma as a result of damn “rules of engagement”, looms large.
I just saw “MAX”, about a combat dog whose handler was killed in Afghanistan. When Hollywood says “based on a true story” it usually means a great deal of artistic license is involved; nevertheless, I was rather moved and would prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt, that for the most part, they were circumspect in the production of this film.
Combat dogs are, in point of fact, veterans. I note that some servicemen, fully aware of the risk, extend their tours because they don’t want to leave their canine teammate behind.
The U.S. War Dog Association posted an article from (uggh) the liberal Huffington Post on bringing these veterans home. Title: New Bill Would Bring Retired War Dogs Home. Excerpt:
“WASHINGTON — In 1966, Ron Aiello and his German shepherd, Stormy, became one of the first 30 soldier-dog pairs to be deployed to fight in the Vietnam War. For two years, the duo patrolled the jungles of Vietnam, where Stormy was trained to sniff out enemy fighters and explosives. When Aiello’s tour ended and he was forced to leave his dog behind, he spent three hours educating the new handler about Stormy’s likes and dislikes.
Years later, Aiello wrote the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters, asking if he could adopt his former dog once she retired from military service. He never heard back. “I don’t know what happened to her in the end, whether she died, or was killed, or abandoned,” Aiello said.”
The column also noted
“Current law allows, but doesn’t require, the Department of Defense to pay for retired war dogs’ transportation back home. Once retired, the dogs are no longer considered military equipment and are often left behind in non-combat military bases in places like Germany, Japan and South Korea. A new law, authored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would require that the Pentagon bring all retired canine veterans back to the U.S., where they are more likely to be reunited with their former handlers.”
Plainly, unless the military is given a prod, they aren’t likely to follow through with this. It shouldn’t take a $2,000 plus airline ticket to accomplish it. A simple military hop on a C-130 cargo plane, would allow the canine to return; rather than be left behind.
I post this one photo, (one only, I don’t need National Geographic to “get their panties in a bunch”) as a prime example of the bond between combat dogs and their human counterparts:
Photograph by Adam Ferguson
Army Staff Sgt. Jason Cartwright bonds with his Labrador retriever, Isaac, during a mission to disrupt a Taliban supply route. Dogs are very sensitive to their handlers’ emotions. Says Jay Crafter, a trainer for the military, “If you’re having a bad day, your dog is going to have a bad day.” adamfergusonphoto.com
Currently, the wait for an adopted dog is a year to 18 months. For those interested, more moving photos at THE DOGS OF WAR