In 2011, President Obama met Cairo, the dog who was vital to the success of the mission that took down Osama Bin Laden. This meeting led to an awareness of the “dogs of war,” or military working dogs. One of the things the public learned about these dogs was heart-breaking. At that time, the military classified its working dogs as equipment and if they retired while overseas they weren’t granted transport back to the United States. The dogs were abandoned in war zones. The handlers, who were spending 24/7 with these dogs, had to arrange to get their partner back to the US at a cost of thousands of dollars and a lot of red tape.
This began to change in late November 2015 when the US enacted a new law that will completely change the lives of retired military dogs and the soldiers who love them. Tucked inside a massive defense bill was a provision that allowed U.S. military dogs to return to the United States after their retirement overseas.
If a dog was retired on US soil, or now returned to US soil by the military, it was sometimes sold to a police department, or offered for adoption. This was better for the dog, but still broke a deep bond between a soldier and the dog who loved one another. Very often the soldier who had lived and worked with the dog had no idea what had happened to the dog, and no way to find out.
Due to the efforts of North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Richard Hudson, an added amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act gives soldiers who served with dogs the opportunity to adopt their companions before the dogs are available to anyone else. Now soldiers and the dogs who faithfully served with them can retire together.
Cairo, the dog who helped put an end to Osama Bin Laden, also helped put an end to the separation of soldiers and the dogs who love each other.
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