They have four legs, cold wet noses and tails that often wag furiously. Yet the Defense Department classifies its working dogs as equipment. Advocates for the four-footed troops want this to change.
“When you lose a military working dog, you can’t just take another one off the shelf,” said Debbie Kandoll, founder of Military Working Dog Adoptions. “They’re not that easy to replace.”
Kandoll said she thinks the labeling of working dogs as equipment came by default.
“There are two classifications: manpower and equipment,” she said. “They’re not manpower, so they’re equipment.”
And once they retire, they’re classified as excess equipment.
“They could create a separate category for them, but they’ve just never done that,” Kandoll said.
The result, Kandoll said, is that retired military working dogs do not get the benefits they deserve, specifically transportation home, medical care and commendations.