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Tag: lackland

National monument honors dogs in combat


The United States’ first national monument to military working dogs was dedicated at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on Monday.

The nine-foot tall bronze statue, built with private funds, features four dogs and a handler and is inscribed with the words “Guardians of America’s Freedom.”

Lackland is home to the U.S. Armed Forces center that has trained dogs for all branches of the military since 1958.

The sculpture features dogs of four major breeds — Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Labrador retriever, and Belgian malinois — and honors all those who have served in all branches of the military over theyears.

You can learn more about the memorial, how it came to be, and donate to the cause here.

(Photo: Benjamin Faske / U.S. Air Force)

Philadelphia airport dogs not up to snuff

All three bomb-sniffing dogs handled by the Transportation Security Administration at Philadelphia International Airport have lost their certification after having failed their last two tests.

And Fox News reports the problems may extend beyond that: Sources say about a dozen of the 700 TSA dogs at 85 airports have failed the tests as well.

A TSA spokesman said the three dogs in Philadelphia — after failing standard tests in November and December — are continuing intensive training to regain their certification, and are continuing to work at the airport as a “visual deterrent.” 

The dogs, trained in at Lackland Air Force base in Texas, completed the 10-week course all TSA dogs must successfully pass.

Ten other city police dogs assigned to Philadelphia’s airport passed the tests.

The TSA spokesman said the agency is working quickly to recertify the bomb sniffing dogs and assured the traveling public that security would not suffer.

Traumatized war dogs sent back to action

Timi came back from the war in with some serious “readjustment issues,” including nightmares characterized by violent kicking — but none were serious enough to prevent him from being returned for another tour of duty in Iraq.

Or at least that’s what his veterinarian said.

Dogs, like human soldiers, can carry the burden of war back home, but the damage isn’t likely to keep them from being sent right back to action. Just like thousands of soldiers, dogs — primarily highly trained German shepherds and Belgian Malinois — are being forced to deploy for two and three tours, according to a Washington Post article.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Defense Department has increased the number of military dogs — mostly bomb sniffers — from 1,320 to 2,025, and many have served multiple tours.

The Post article doesn’t delve into whether its right or wrong to be returning traumatized canines to duty, but considering the Pentagon has invested $15,000 to train each one, it’s likely the military strives to get its money’s worth.

In a way, they’re too valuable to be discharged. Dogs have saved countless lives by finding bombs, ammunition and hidden weapons, said Master Sgt. Robert Tremmel, manager of the working dogs program at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where the dogs from different branches of the military are initially trained.

The U.S. War Dogs Association is trying to persuade the Pentagon to create a medal for dogs. Another group is pushing for a military working dog memorial in the Washington area. And the Humane Society, which criticized the Pentagon during the Vietnam War, when many dogs were left behind or euthanized, has credited the military with working to find retirement homes for them.

Veterinary hospital serves dogs of war

A new $15 million hospital for military dogs in training and dogs wounded in combat opened Tuesday at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

“We act as the Walter Reed of the veterinary world,” Army Col. Bob Vogelsang, hospital director, is quoted as saying in an Associated Press article.

Lackland is also a central point for training dogs for the military. Dogs working for all branches of the military and the Transportation Safety Administration are trained at the base to find explosive devices, drugs and land mines. About 2,500 dogs are working with military units.

About 750 dogs are now in training at Lackland — double the number of dogs there before the Sept. 11 attacks, Vogelsang said.

To treat the trainees and injured working dogs, the new hospital has operating rooms, digital radiography, CT scanning equipment, an intensive care unit and rehab rooms with an underwater treadmill and exercise balls, among other features. A behavioral specialist has an office near the lobby.

Before the center opened, veterinarians treated and rehabilitated dogs in a cramped building that opened in 1968, when the military trained dogs for work in Vietnam.

“This investment made sense … and somehow, we were able to convince others,” said retired Col. Larry Carpenter, who first heard complaints about the poor facilities in 1994 and later helped to launch the project.offering a long overdue facility that gives advanced medical treatment for combat-wounded dogs.

Dogs injured in Iraq or Afghanistan get emergency medical treatment on the battlefield and are flown to Germany. If more advanced treatment is necessary, they are shipped to Lackland.

Training a military working dog takes about four months. Working dogs usually enter training at 1 1/2- to 3-years-old, and most can work until they’re about 10, at which time the military tries to adopt them out.