Military dogs don’t exactly lead lives of comfort. When not deployed, they generally sleep on the floor of concrete kennels. They work hard, giving it their all while training and working in all kinds of conditions around the globe. Sometimes they get hurt. Mostly, life just takes a toll, no matter how much they love their handlers or their work.
The people who adopt these heroes when they retire often end up with astronomical veterinary bills as the dogs grow older. For years, the U.S. War Dogs Association (USWDA) has been trying to get these K-9 veterans the medical coverage they deserve — kind of a Veterans Administration for the four-legged set. But regulations prohibit federal funding of such a program, so the organization’s founder, Ron Aiello, has been looking for alternative ways to take care of these retirees.
This Veterans Day we have great news: USWDA has teamed up with the American Humane Association and Red Bank Veterinary Hospitals to launch the first of what they hope will be many free specialty medical programs for retired military dogs and contract dogs. Red Bank will use its five hospitals across New Jersey to provide free specialty care, including diagnostics, surgery, and pain management. (Applause!)
The only hitch is that for now, at least, owners of these hero dogs have to get their dogs to New Jersey. USWDA will try to arrange free lodging during diagnoses and treatment, but transportation isn’t (yet) covered. Still, it’s a strong start to this brand-new program, which Aiello hopes will evolve into a nationwide network of veterinary clinics by early 2015.
“Right now I feel so blessed that we are able to offer this service to our retired MWDs and CWDs,” Aiello told us. “For 11 years now we have been supporting our active military working dogs and their handlers through Operation Military Care K9, and now we are able to continue that support in their retirement years.”
Any adoptive MWD or CWD owners interested in participating in the program should go to the U.S. War Dogs Association site and fill in the necessary paperwork, including supplying adoption forms.
This is the best Veterans Day present for these dogs and the people who love them. Job very well done, everyone! Can’t wait to watch it expand throughout the United States!