Having a pet is great. That’s a fact. Even most people who aren’t interested in having a pet of their own get why so many others have them. They’re just wonderful. If you’re reading this, your military family probably has one, two, or a dozen fluffy/furry/feathery/scaly members right now. Or you may be looking to add one. Or to round out that dozen to a full baker’s dozen. Whether you’re contemplating your first pet or your thirteenth, you should consider adopting a retired military dog.
Military Working Dogs: Our Fuzziest Heroes
Often abbreviated to MWD’s, military working dogs have been serving alongside American troops all over the world for over 200 years. And the history of dogs used by armies goes back thousands of years. Today, MWD’s are in every branch of the US military doing everything from law enforcement to bomb detection. The most common breeds are Belgian Malinois, Dutch and German shepherds, and certain retrievers (generally trained for odor detection based jobs). Each and every dog, regardless of branch, goes through their extensive training at the Lackland Air Force Base section of Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.
Retired Military Working Dogs
Between their lengthy training and years of courageous service, some MWD’s are at least 10 years old by the time they retire. Others leave the service at younger ages for different reasons, usually because they’re not suited to work in the field or on deployments. And around 90% of all retired military dogs end up getting adopted by one of their handlers, which makes sense given how closely they work together. It’s also just about the sweetest thing we can think of. But the remainder of these dogs deserve good, loving forever homes of their own. This is where all you pet lovers come in.
Adopting a Retired Military Dog
Bringing a former military dog into your home is a relatively lengthy process, as far as pet adoptions go. Depending on availability, it can take up to two years. And there are several essential steps you must take so both you and the adoption agency are sure of your abilities to care for a retired military dog.
Steps to Adopt
Unfortunately, just loving dogs is not enough to qualify for adopting a military dog. Before you even consider starting the process, you’ll need to meet certain conditions:
- No children under age 5 in your home.
- A large yard with a minimum 6-foot fence. Even older MWD’s are large and fairly athletic, so they’ll need a large, contained space to stay active and happy.
- Two references willing to attest to your suitability.
- No more than 3 other dogs living in your home. So if you are one of those folks with a dozen pets already on hand, a retired military dog may not be for you.
- Have a veterinarian selected and willing to render their services as your dog’s medical provider.
If you meet all these qualifications, contact the Military Working Dog Adoptions Program of the 37th Training Wing at Lackland AFB. They’ll process your application and help find the right retired military dog for you, either from their facility or another military kennel closer to you. If you need a little extra guidance getting through the process, there are some great organizations out there like Mission K9 that specialize in retired military dog adoption.
Why You Should Adopt a Military Dog
The simplest and most obvious reason you should adopt a retired MWD is one we’ve already mentioned: they deserve a good home with lots of love. Whether they left the training program as young pups or gave a full decade in military service, they’re hardworking animals who need care and affection. Plus, they are extremely well trained animals who need highly attentive owners.
These dogs are perfect for anyone who can’t help showering pets with love at all times. Which is probably all of you reading this right now. So go on, call the good folks at Lackland and started the process of adopting a retired military dog. It’s a wonderful way to thank them for their fur-vice.