A new bill proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden on June 3 aims to make easier the process of military dogs returning to the U.S. with their owners after their tour of duty ends.
The Military Working Dog Retirement Act of 2015 would enable the U.S. Department of Defense to pay for all transportation costs associated with returning the dogs to the U.S. after they have been injured or they have retired, KTVZ News reported.
After their service ends, most military dogs are left overseas, as the process of bringing the dogs back to the U.S. is convoluted and expensive. If handlers wish to bring their dogs back to the U.S., they have to pay for it themselves.
“The bond between these military working dogs and their handlers is unique. By bringing these dogs that have served alongside our men and women in uniform back to the United States, this bill can provide assistance to veterans while supporting the close bond between these dogs and our soldiers returning home,” Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said.
Currently, 2,000 dogs are serving in the U.S. military, where they are trained to sniff out bombs and other explosive and dangerous equipment.
In Wyden’s home state, a program called Paws Assisting Veterans Service Dogs trains dogs to help veterans returning to the U.S. with post-traumatic stress disorder or physical disabilities sustained during their time fighting overseas. Michelle Nelson, the founder of PAVE, supports the senator’s efforts.
“Military working dogs have put their lives on the line for our military and deserve to be transported back to the U.S. to be reunited with their handlers. It is high time to acknowledge and honor the work these dogs do for and with our military,” Nelson said.
While its mainly returning soldiers that are diagnosed and treated for PTSD, researchers believe military dogs may also develop the disease. According to a 2011 article in The New York Times, around 5 percent of 650 deployed military dogs returned to the U.S. with the disorder.
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