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Saving the World’s Abandoned Dogs: Adopting Retired Military Dogs

Saving the World’s Abandoned Dogs: Adopting Retired Military Dogs

Adopting Retired Military Dogs? With the US military’s increased commitment to Afghanistan and Iraq, more retired dogs are coming out of service. These amazing animals have served alongside soldiers overseas for years and deserve a chance at a comfortable retirement.

Adopting Retired Military Dogs

However, there is only one organization in this country that has the ability to provide these retired war heroes with loving homes and second chances in life: The Retired Military Working Dog Adoptions program.

Today I want to talk about their mission, how they operate as an independent nonprofit organization, what it takes to adopt a dog from them, and why you should consider adopting your next pet from them!

Passed in 2000, HR 5314 allows these forgotten canine soldiers who have served their country a chance at an honorable retirement if suitable homes can be found.

Dog Military History

Dogs have played a role in the U.S. military since WWI. Most people are aware that dogs are used in the military but perhaps not many know that these military working dog veterans can be retired and placed up for adoption.

It has been estimated that more than 10,000 lives were saved during the Vietnam War due to the talent and courage of trained dogs. Yet when the conflict was over, the war dogs did not receive a hero’s welcome home.

They were classified by the military as equipment to be disposed of by euthanasia or, as some were, turned over to the enemy. Due in part to a war dogs documentary that aired in the late ‘90s, public awareness and outcry were instrumental in changing the outcome for military dogs.

Military dogs are now retired with honor and dignity. They get to spend their golden years in a loving home, instead of being euthanized or turned over to the enemy as they were after Vietnam.

In November of 2000, H.R. 5314 was passed, allowing canine veterans with a suitable temperament to switch from sniffing out bombs and weapons caches to chewing Kong toys and playing fetch. All they need is a qualifying home.

Reasons Military Working Dogs Retire

Dogs are retired due to injury, degenerative diseases, or when age prevents them from being useful in military service. Sometimes a young dog is retired during training if he is determined not to be suitable for military work.


The organization that rescues retired military working dogs is named The Yellow Ribbon Fund for Animals (YRFA). This group does not receive any government funding, so they rely on donations to take care of these animals. One retired military dog costs $800 per month or more in medical expenses and food alone.

The Yellow Ribbon Fund for Animals is a 501(c)(19) non-profit organization based in San Diego County that was established by founder Linda Thurston after she retired from the Navy.

Linda Thurston felt compelled to do something about the plight of military working dogs when she retired from active duty in 1999 as a Master Chief Petty Officer and was given her last dog, London before he passed away due to injuries sustained while on deployment with Linda’s team.

The Yellow Ribbon Fund for Animals donates funds to assist retired military dogs with surgery, vaccinations, and cost of care.

The benefits of rescuing a Canine Hero

There are a lot of benefits to adopting retired military dogs instead of buying one from the store or breeder. You may be surprised by how many people you know have adopted these animals before! There’s an excellent chance someone in your family has owned a retired military dog in the past, and if not there are plenty of people you can call!

Veterans looking for a companion animal that will love them unconditionally. Retired military dogs have been trained to be loving companions who enjoy giving their attention to one person. They work well with children since they have been around so many throughout their career and also do well with other pets.

In order to be available for adoption, a military dog must be evaluated by the commander of the last unit the dog was assigned to and deemed suitable for civilian life. Not every dog trained for combat is able to make a transition to pet life.

Who can Adopt Retired Military Dogs?

Retiring military dogs are always offered to former handlers first. If a handler is unable to adopt the dog, then law enforcement agencies are next in line, and after that, civilians capable of humanely caring for a trained military dog are considered. There is no adoption fee.

Because many military dogs, due to training, combat experience, or injuries, are unable to adjust to civilian life, Save-a-Vet fights for the rights of these forgotten soldiers.

This organization has the goal of opening a facility in each state where veterans can find employment and unadopted military and law enforcement canines can live out their lives in peace. But until that happens, dogs unsuitable for adoption or unable to find suitable homes are euthanized.

What a shame.

The process of adopting one retired military dog is a lengthy, rigorous endeavor. It can take as long as two years from the time an adoption application is submitted to when a retired military dog will be available for new owners. And there are only about 400 dogs up-for-adoption at any given time with 500 more coming in every month.

To be considered for adoption, retired military dogs must first undergo a rigorous evaluation process. They are evaluated on their ability to function in the world after having spent most of their lives training as service canines and then living isolated at kennels during deployment without proper socialization or exercise. These evaluations occur by evaluating candidates’ responses

Adopting a Retired Military Working Dog

Those who adopt a retired MWD can count on getting an intelligent, highly trained dog with a good temperament who will make a great protector and companion. Providing a retirement home for one of these dogs saves its life and gives the adopting family the opportunity to honor a veteran who has honorably served his country.

Dogs are being retired from the military at a very young age and need homes to retire in so that they can live out their golden years comfortably, and you could be just what they’re looking for!

Money-Saving in the Long Run

Adopting retired military dogs is not only rewarding but also an excellent way to save money. Most of the retired military dogs we rescue have been cared for by the Department of Defense. That means they are already fully vetted and paid for, which is a huge cost saver!

The benefits are many with adopting from this program: you get to save on vet bills, food costs, boarding fees or even getting one at all because there’s usually a waiting list. You’ll also get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re saving a life – and maybe even your own!

Additional benefits come from retired military dog adoption programs because they provide many resources to help every step along the way: training, behavioral advice, pet care tips, medical information checklists, and links to other helpful websites.

The retired military dog is a hero that needs our help. These dogs have saved lives and been loyal companions for the soldiers they served with, but now need to be adopted by someone who will take care of them in their retirement years.

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