After British army dogs retire from their military service, they don’t always get a warm welcome home - or any home to go back to for that matter. Often times, the dogs can’t be re-homed due to behavioral issues that make them a risk to the general public. Consequently, the ones that can't be re-homed sadly end up being put down. This is because of an old rule that says that the commanding officer gets to decide the fate of the dogs without contest.
Once word got out that two beloved army dogs were going to be put down, people were determined to put a stop to this practice and give the dogs a loving home.
Kevin and Dazz are two Belgian shepherds that risked their lives in Afghanistan working with the British Army. They worked with soldiers to locate explosives in Helmand Province. They retired from their service four years ago, and they've been waiting for forever-homes ever since. Unfortunately, that prospect was looking low for them...
Although one would expect that Kevin and Dazz would be headed toward a nice life of retirement, a more grim fate awaited them. Because they weren't considered suitable for re-homing and didn’t have designated homes to go to, they were scheduled to be put down via lethal injection. Naturally, their handlers, and many who found out about this, weren’t having it. They had worked alongside these dogs and valued them like any other fellow soldier.
The decision for retired service dogs to be put down comes from the commanding officer, who doesn’t consult with anyone first. “There’s no protocol to decide if a dog is put down,” said one of the handlers. “The commanding officer decides and that’s it. It’s such a cruel way to treat animals that have given so much.”
There are different reasons for why army dogs can’t be re-homed. It could be due to behavioral issues from being in combat, or that they aren’t suitable to live with children. Either way, experienced handlers have come forward to offer to take them into their own homes.
“Whenever possible we endeavor to re-home military working dogs,” said an Army spokesperson. Sadly, there are occasions where this is not possible.” Of course, the dogs’ advocates weren’t having this answer, so they took matters into their own hands.
The dogs’ handlers and former soldiers decided to take action to save Kevin and Dazz. “We’ll do anything to save these dogs. We’ll go to Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson if need be,” said the handler.
Advocates for the dogs started taking action. They wrote to the Defense Animal Center in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, where the dogs had been working with trainers since being retired. Even Andy McNab, an English novelist, started a petition to stop the dogs from being put down. He also added a third dog, Driver, to the list.
On his petition website, McNab wrote, “Dogs like Kevin, Dazz and Driver are an asset when they are serving but they are even more of an asset when they are retired. We owe them every chance possible to be housed and not killed.” The petition ended up being very successful, with more than 300,000 supporters.
British politician Sir Alan Duncan also stepped in to try to save the dogs. He wrote to the Ministry of Defense asking them to stop the lethal injections, saying that the “hero dogs had fought fearlessly alongside our soldiers.” He said that helping the dogs find a home is the least they deserve.
Sir Alan also wrote this adorable tweet, featuring his dog, Noodle. The tweet served to simply inform the public of what was going on. If Noodle isn’t cute enough to convince the commanding officer, then no one is.
Of course, unfortunately, some dogs are ultimately unable to live normal lives after being in combat, as they may pose a danger to their new families. “It is of great importance that all military dogs are properly assessed before re-homing to ensure they do not pose a danger to civilians, but only in circumstances where such danger has been properly proven should they be put down,” said Sir Alan.
All of the campaigning turned out to be a success after all! Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson responded, saying “I’ve instructed my department these dogs are to be saved. We’re talking with charities and looking at a program as to whether they can be re-housed with a handler in a more normal environment.”
It seems like the higher-ups are beginning to understand how important these dogs are to people. “We’re going to ensure they have a golden future,” said Williamson. “We’ll do everything we can to look after animals that form such an important part of the military family.”
Hopefully the happy ending of this story will set an example so that other innocent animals don’t have to be put down. Army dogs have done so much for their humans - at the very least they can give them good retirement lives if possible. Like and share if you agree!