The army’s botched adoption of military working dogs, report says

The military failed to monitor the adoptions and placements of its tactical explosive detection dogs after their work in Afghanistan was completed, the Pentagon’s office of inspector general said Thursday.

The Air Force, as an agent of the Department of Defense’s military working dog program, “also failed to provide sufficient management and oversight of the Army’s plan and process to get rid of his TEDD,” the IG report said.

As a result, adoptions of the dogs at the end of their military service “occurred without complete records of suitability for adoption and some families adopted TEDDs with possible aggressive or maladaptive tendencies,” the report said.

“Furthermore, the military failed to sterilize all male TEDDs before allowing individuals and former handlers to adopt them,” the report continued.

Some dogs went to law enforcement who never used them in a security role, according to the report.

In one case, an unidentified private company adopted 13 of the TEDDs “but then dumped the dogs in a kennel,” according to the report.

The Army and Air Force agreed with the IG’s recommendations that they needed to develop better procedures and regulations to comply with the DoD Working Dog Management System and provide better guidance on ” verification of non-military applicants for transfer and adoption for military work”. Dogs.”

The IG report was in response to a request from the House Armed Services Committee to examine what had happened to the dogs as part of the program launched by the military in 2010 to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan. The program ended in 2014 when the Army pulled out of a contract extension that would have cost $3.5 million.

“The military urgently needed this explosives detection capability to mitigate an increase in enemy use of IEDs in combat,” the report said. Over 200 dogs eventually served in the program.

However, the Army purchased and trained the dogs through private contractors rather than getting them from the Air Force’s 341st Training Squadron, which is authorized to provide working dogs to services and other DoD components, according to the report.

In August 2016, the DoD reported to Congress that the Army had disposed of 229 TEDDs. Of these, the Air Force reported that the Army transferred 70 to Army units; provided 40 for adoption by dog ​​handlers; transferred 17 to federal agencies; transferred 46 to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; and provided 47 to individuals for adoption. Nine of the dogs were pronounced dead.

However, the IG report says there were actually 232 TEDDs. The three additional dogs were listed in an Army spreadsheet, but “we were unable to determine whether the additional dogs were transferred or adopted,” the report said.

The Army’s management of the working dog program contrasted with a similar capability adopted by the Marine Corps in 2008 under the Improvised Explosive Device Detection Dog (IDD) program.

The IG report says the Marine Corps has developed detailed procedures and coordinated training plans and funding estimates with the 341st Training Squadron.

The Marines program involved over 600 dogs before it ended in 2011. Between 2011 and 2014, the dogs were transferred and “deliberate planning of the Marines’ disposition allowed time to explain the plan to relevant stakeholders, and provided time to review and consider adoption applications and alleviate adoption issues by managers and civilians,” the report states.

In 2000, Congress enacted legislation authorizing the adoption of military dogs and “ended the practice of euthanizing dogs at the end of their useful life,” the report said.

The IG office told Military.com that none of the dogs in the Army program were euthanized after it ended.

In a 2016 report to Congress, however, the Air Force noted loopholes in the policy allowing military dog ​​handlers to adopt them.

The service found failures in the system to notify handlers when their former working dogs became available for adoption, leading to possible missed adoption opportunities.

“From 2000 to 2015, the DoD had no established priority for MWD adoption candidates, and no adoption priority for former MWD handlers,” the report concludes.

Since then, Congress has recommended “former MWD managers as the first priority for MWD adoption,” the report says.

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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Bette C. Alvarado