Military servicemen who want to adopt the heroic dogs who fought with them are being ignored, while the animals are allegedly dumped by the company who supplies them to the military.
Under Robby’s Law and a provision in the 2016 Defense Department budget, the dogs, who helped soldiers by detecting hidden bombs, are to be brought stateside by the government if they are being retired, The Washington Times notes.
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The servicemen and handlers of the dogs or, if they are deceased or severely wounded, their family members are to be first in line for their adoption.
Daniel, an active Army soldier, has been waiting three years to adopt Oogie who served with him in Afghanistan, a New York Post investigation found.
Oogie has essentially vanished.
There are at least 200 military handlers whose dogs were secretly given to civilians by K2 Solutions, the company who holds a government contract for the dogs, in February 2014.
When speaking of when he and his fellow servicemen had to say goodbye to their dogs in 2012, Daniel said, “It’s a bunch of infantry guys, and no one wants to be the first to start crying. But it didn’t take long. There wasn’t a dry eye”
The failure to allow the soldiers to adopt the dogs involves at least three government workers who may have taken dogs for themselves.
K2 holds open adoptions for dogs. Its website advertises dogs for sale, but does state whether they are former working military dogs.
Multiple armed forces handlers told the New York Post they contacted K2 repeatedly about their dogs and have submitted adoption paperwork as instructed, but they have received little to no information.
Locating the dogs should not be difficult, as they are all microchipped and have serial numbers tattooed on their ears from the TEDD training program.
“We got blown up together,” a handler who asked to remain anonymous said of his dog. “Before I was even done with training, I knew I’d try to adopt him.”
He contacted K2 in March 2014 and was told they would not help him locate his dog. He reached out to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for help, and they sent him back to K2.
An email response from the Military Working Dogs Adoptions and Disposition Center at Lackland said, “I’m sorry, but we don’t have any control over TEDD dog adoptions."
Ryan Henderson, who has been trying to locate his dog since 2014, thinks there is a black market for the dogs.
“Ninety dogs adopted out, at the same time, under suspicious circumstances?,” he said inquistively. “Subcontractors are literally another layer of insulation to cover the BS.”
K2's website says that, “All of the dogs in the TEDD program belonged to the Army,” and directs service members looking for their dogs to the Army’s Office of the Provost Marshall General.
When Army Spc. Brent Grommet’s dog Matty was retired for medical reasons, he submitted the paperwork to adopt him, The Washington Times reported.
Matty was sent to an air base in New Jersey and after some time, Grommet found him at a veterinary clinic in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He re-filed the adoption paperwork, but received horrible news shortly thereafter.
Matty had been adopted by another family.
The Army admitted their mistake, stating, “While regulations dictate that former handlers have first priority for adoption, Spc. Grommet’s request was not forwarded to, nor received by, the Army’s Office of the Provost Marshal General, which manages the program, prior to the dog’s legal adoption.”
After a media campaign and a petition to the White House, the new owners agreed to give Matty to Grommet.
Other handlers have not been so lucky, like former Marine Nick Beckham.
His IDD dog Lucky is living with K2 CEO Lane Kjellsen, he told the New York Post.
“K2 told me I had the right to adopt if I was the first handler and the dogs were retired,” Beckham said. “I called K2 and asked for paperwork. I filled it out and mailed it in and I never heard back. I e-mailed again — they never responded.”
When asked about an IDD dog named Lucky, Kjellsen said, “Lucky? Is that true? I don’t know. I do have a dog named Lucky.””
He said he sold Lucky to the Marine Corps, and he adopted him when the dog was retired.
"The Marine Corps repeatedly reached out to the handler and had no luck. I properly adopted Lucky through normal channels. K2 didn’t handle any adoption paperwork.”