Recently, both chambers of Congress finalized and passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund activities at the Department of Defense. As part of this, military working dogs will be getting a new lease on life.
Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced the bill, the Military Working Dogs Act of 2015, which included language that mandates military working dogs be returned to U.S. soil upon retirement, and their human handlers be given first right of adoption. This bill passed as part of the NDAA.
The Department of Defense estimates there are more than 2,000 dogs working in various branches of the military worldwide. Before passage of this bill, it was commonplace for the dog to be retired at its last assignment or service members had to pay for the costs associated with getting the dog back to the United States. Now, once President Obama signs the NDAA into law, the federal government will be responsible for the costs associated with the transportation of military working dogs to the United States for retirement.
Although the AVMA did not have a formal position on this particular bill at the time of the bill’s passage, the association has supported similar legislation in the past.