Military dogs labelled unfit for service are put down, not re-homed

Military dogs on duty
Military dog on duty. ©janeb13, Pixabay

Military dogs experience trauma in many of the most dangerous places on Earth, serving their owners, sometimes to great cost. But a well-deserved retirement isn’t always on the cards for these loyal heroes…

- Advertisement -

Military dogs euthanised

There are many men and women, but also Force dogs who get to see traumatic events and deal with dangerous missions everyday, while working in war zones. After returning from active duty, each military dog is subject to physical and behavioural tests by vets and experts. According to Freedom of Information figures quoted in The Mirror, 41 were euthanised in 2017 after being labelled as neither fit for active service, nor for re-homing. However, 121 of the Force dogs, officially called Military Working Dogs, did manage to find new homes after their service.

What qualifies as ‘unfit’?

The unlucky 41 were considered to be in severely poor health, or had behavioural problems that would make re-homing in a civilian environment dangerous.

But not everyone agrees with the decisions made. Speaking to The Mirror, dog behaviourist and founder of SafePets UK, Debbie Connolly voiced concerns that some of the dogs could have been saved:Occasionally I get them and put them through rehab. […] The problem is that the MoD don’t seem to be keen on working with anyone else. It’s just them deciding. […] I’m not pretending this is a fluffy bunny business where every dog can be rehabilitated. But they should be given the chance.”

- Advertisement -

Hundreds of military dogs are currently out on active service. They are often tasked with some of the most dangerous work, such as explosive clearing. While many of them return safe and sound, to enjoy retirement in a forever home, it is heartbreaking that dozens of lives are cut short. It raises the question of how much long-term responsibility we are willing to take for the dogs we send out to war…

Read also: Battle weary stray dog makes his journey to safety

Emily K is a freelance copywriter, journalist and translator based in France. In her spare time, when she's not running after her cheeky beagle, she can be found pedalling around the city on her bicycle.