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Garamendi, Kim Introduce Support Our Military Working Dogs Act

WASHINGTON, DC—Today Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Andy Kim (D-NJ), chairman and vice-chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, introduced the “Support Our Military Working Dogs Act” (H.R.6188) in commemoration of National K9 Veterans Day 2020 later this week. The United States K9 Corps was established on March 13, 1942.

Endorsements: Reserve Officers Association of the United States, Fleet Reserve Association, TREA: The Retired Enlisted Association, Animal Welfare Institute.

“Military dogs serve on the front lines with our troops to defend our nation and provide recuperating services for our veterans and their former handlers. Caring for these dogs in the field and once they return home is a major concern that must be addressed. The Support Our Military Working Dogs Act ensures that our nation’s military dogs receive the best possible care and a path to their forever home once they retire from service,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA).

“Military working dogs have served alongside our men and women in uniform for generations, and they deserve the best care possible once they end their service,” said Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ). “I’m proud to work with Congressman Garamendi on this bill, and hope our colleagues join us to do the right thing for our nation’s military dogs.”

The “Support Our Military Working Dogs Act” (H.R.6188) would authorize better veterinary care for retired military dogs and direct the U.S. Department of Defense to work with veterans’ service organizations and other nonprofits to support their long-term care, once adopted by their former handler’s into loving homes.

In 2019, the U.S. special forces raid that led to the death of ISIS terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi included an American special operations military working dog Belgian Malinois named Conan. During the raid, Conan chased al-Baghdadi into a tunnel underneath a compound in northern Syria, where he then detonated his suicide vest. During the chase, Conan was injured by live electrical wires in the tunnel. Under current federal law, the Department of Defense cannot cover the veterinary expenses of military working dogs like Conan, when they retire from duty or recuperate from injury while adopted.

The “Support Our Military Working Dogs Act” (H.R.6188) would remove these restrictions to authorize the Department of Defense to provide support for retired or injured military working dogs after their adoption. The bill would also ensure that the U.S. government covers all transportation costs associated with transferring retired military animals (including horses) to their new adopted homes, building upon the success of the Military Working Dog Retirement Act of 2015.

Federal law requires that a retired military working dog be adopted by their former handler in the U.S. military or the handler’s family, if they so choose.

The bill awaits action by the House Committee on Armed Services. Congressmen Garamendi (D-CA) and Kim (D-NJ) serve as chair and vice-chair of the Subcommittee on Readiness, which has jurisdiction over military working dogs.

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