Fort Bragg Retired Military Working Dogs Find New Forever Homes | Article
FORT BRAGG, NC ¬¬– Three military working dogs from Fort Bragg ended their successful careers in the military at a joint retirement ceremony hosted by the 550th Military Police Detachment, July 14.
Alongside their adoptive families, MWDs Alex, Jerry and Zita were honored for their unwavering dedication throughout their military careers and their individual accomplishments during their journey as a police dog.
Each MWD received the Veterinary Excellence Coin, a token of gratitude for active service and, in addition, a bone representing each dog’s transition from a fully certified military working dog to an Army veteran at the retirement and to man’s best friend.
For Zita, a narcotics patrol Belgian Malinois, life in retirement will be spent with her very first dog handler, Michael Coffee and his wife, Alexis. Coffee picked up Zita from the airport in 2017 and met her as a young working dog. Zita had three handlers throughout her career at Fort Bragg from September 2018 to July 2022 and deployed to Kuwait in 2018.
“I’m so honored to be able to bring her home and finally let her relax,” Coffee said.
Alex, who specializes in explosives detection, is a happy German Shepherd ready to live the life of a couch dog. Alex has three deployments in his career, Kuwait in 2020, Afghanistan in 2021 and most recently Poland 2022. He has worked with two different managers throughout his career at Fort Bragg from April 2018 to July 2022. His most recent handler, Sgt. Christopher Zarate, adopted Alex.
“I worked with him for four years and went through all three deployments together,” Zarate said. “It was obvious that I wanted to adopt him and finally let him be a dog.”
Zarate also has other dogs at home, so it will take time to introduce Alex to the other dogs. In order to allow the dogs to get used to each other, Zarate will put Alex in a crate and let him and the other dogs sniff each other individually.
When an MWD is deemed ready for retirement, primarily due to age or injury, previous handlers have the first opportunity to adopt. The adoption process goes through several layers of approval that include the overall health and disposition of the dog, the living conditions of a forever home, and adopters must meet certain criteria to be considered eligible for adoption. adoption.
“It’s time to let him be a dog,” Zarate said. “(Alex) has been go, go, go – so retirement life will be a big change for him but he deserves it. There’s a big cheeseburger and a nice soft, comfy couch waiting for him when he gets home.
Jerry, an all-black German Shepherd explosives patrol dog, has the same agenda when he arrives at his new forever home.
“The first thing (Jerry) will probably do when he gets home is to find all the food,” said Manuel Paulino, one of four managers Jerry worked with. “We deployed together, but we also provided security for the president and vice president at the time.”
Jerry served as an MWD from March 2015 to July 2022 and deployed to Afghanistan in 2016, Iraq and Syria in 2019, and Kuwait in 2021.
“Alex, Jerry and Zita, we can now add your names to a long list of those who have served our nation’s armed forces with such pride and loyalty,” said Colonel Sharon Lyght, commander of the 16th Brigade of military police. “We wish these wonderful dogs and their new families the best on their journey to retirement.”