Author Archives: Maria Goodavage

Covered K9s: Great new program offers free healthcare for retired military & contract dogs

Military Dog Lex
Retired military and contract dogs will be eligible for free veterinary care as long as their adoptive owners can transport them to NJ. Organizers of this program hope to eventually secure veterinary hospitals around the country to treat these retired heroes. Photo of Purple Heart recipient Lex via myfoxdc.com


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.

Lucca, the hero of my new book, Top Dog, was still in the military when she needed emergency medical care for her leg, which was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan. Expensive diagnostics like scans will now be free for retired MWDs and CWDs whose owners can get them to NJ. The program should spread through the nation by early 2015.
Lucca, the hero of my new book, Top Dog, was still in the military when she needed emergency medical care for her leg, which was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan. Expensive diagnostics like scans will now be free for retired MWDs and CWDs whose owners can get them to a new program in NJ.

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!

 

 

10 Reasons to Love This 3-Legged Marine Hero

[I originally wrote this for Dogster.com. It's reprinted here with permission.] Marine dog Lucca is my hero. The German shepherd-Malinois mix led more than 400 missions during three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and no one she served with ever got hurt. Lucca’s job was to sniff out IEDs and other deadly explosives, which sheContinue Reading

Marine hero dog and handler reunite

  The last time Marine Sergeant Daniel Cornier saw his K9 partner Darko, the Belgian Malinois was sticking his nose through the bars of his kennel at Camp Pendleton, looking as devastated as Cornier felt. “It was horrible for both of us. He just knew,” says Cornier. That was in late 2012, not long after theyContinue Reading

Vietnam Marine Has Been Looking for Dog Handler for 40+ Years; Can You Help?

Can you help this Marine find a dog handler he was wounded with in 1968? (Tragically, the dog, Wolf, was KIA that day.) It would mean the world to him. He has been trying to no avail for more than four decades. The handler’s nickname was probably “Heck.” Please read on for more details. I’llContinue Reading

A Portrait of Rip V541: From Family Dog to WWII Hero to Handler’s Beloved Adopted Dog

In World War II, when the US war dog program was in its infancy, it depended almost entirely on people donating their dogs to the fight. I can’t imagine what it was like to say good-bye to the family dog – even in a time when dogs had a slightly different status in most homesContinue Reading

Navy SEAL Book Reveals New Information About Hero Dog in Bin Laden Raid

For anyone wondering if the brand-new book No Easy Day reveals much about the military dog who accompanied the SEALs on the Bin Laden raid, the answer is this: Although Cairo gets very little ink in the book, we do learn more about what he did. My publisher, Dutton (Penguin), launched this highly controversial bookContinue Reading

Guest Editorial: Please Handlers, Don’t Push to Adopt Viable War Dogs Too Early. Lives Are at Stake.

Earlier this week my Facebook page celebrated the reunion of Iraq war veteran and former dog handler Logan Black and his old bomb-sniffing dog, Diego. Thanks to the DOD’s military working dog adoption program, former Army Sgt. Logan Black was able to adopt 8-year-old yellow Lab after the dog was dispo’d from the MWD program.Continue Reading