Army botched hundreds of adoptions for military dogs, report finds

A report released Friday by the House Armed Services Committee accused the U.S. Army of botching the adoptions of hundreds of service dogs. Photo by Jason Johnston/U.S. Army/UPI

March 3 (UPI) — After the retirement of more than 200 military dogs, the U.S. Army failed to properly manage, supervise and facilitate their adoptions, according to a report released March 1 by the House Armed Services Committee.

The dogs, once working in the Tactical Explosive Detector Dog (TEDD) program, ended their military service “without complete adoption suitability records and some families adopted TEDDs with possible aggressive or unsuitable tendencies,” according to the report.

The new report releases details about an August 2016 report to the Department of Defense that said out of 229 TEDDs, 70 were transferred to Army units, gave 40 to handlers for adoption, transferred 17 to federal agencies, transferred 46 to law enforcement agencies and provided 47 to private individuals for adoption. Nine of the dogs were reported deceased.

According to the report, one company adopted 13 of the TEDDs “but subsequently abandoned the dogs to a kennel.”

“In addition, the Army did not neuter all of the male TEDDs before allowing private individuals and former handlers to adopt them,” the report read.

Also in the document, information about a 2016 report to Congress by the U.S. Air Force that highlighted shortfalls in the system, such as not notifying handlers of the adoption process at the end of the program, creating missed opportunities.

One such case was widely reported in the media, about a German shepherd named Satan, one of more than 100 retired military dogs adopted out in 2014.

Satan spent time in Afghanistan detecting bombs with handler Sgt. Ryan Henderson. After Henderson woke up in a hospital in Germany after having a grand mal seizure, the first question he asked was “Where is my dog?”

Henderson was told Satan was with another handler. In 2013, when Henderson retired from the military he started the process of trying to adopt Satan but was told the second handler had already adopted him.

Not giving up, a search led Richardson to Satan, who was adopted to a family in North Carolina who did not want to give the dog up.

Henderson later met an attorney who offered to work his case pro bono to try and get the dog back. So Henderson filed a lawsuit against the family saying the adoption violated his right of first refusal. Satan’s owners ended up turning over the dog before the case went before a judge.

After the 2017 reunion, Henderson said new mission would be to help other handlers get their dog back.


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