Target: United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
Goal: Allow military service dogs to be brought home when a handler’s tour is completed without the handler having to pay out of pocket.
Canines have a long and distinguished history of service within the US military. Canine military service stretches back almost as far as the nation itself, with their first official military use occurring in the Seminole Wars that stretched from 1814 to 1819. This service continued on into the American Civil War where they served as messengers and through the First World War where the popularity of these military animals led to their widespread use as mascots adorning propaganda posters.
Their numbers peaked during the Vietnam War where over 5,000 dogs served in the US Army. During this time, K9 units are estimated to have saved over 10,000 human lives (military and civilian) while suffering 232 casualties.
Sadly, the Vietnam War began a trend of a tremendous lack of appreciation being shown these animals by the United States Government, with many of these animals being unceremoniously abandoned after their services were no longer needed. At the conclusion of the Vietnam War it is estimated that only 200 dogs were assigned to other US bases; the rest were either euthanized or left behind in a hostile nation.
This unfortunate trend continues into today. At present, these animals are deemed as expendable equipment that the government refuses to return home after a handler’s tour is concluded. In order for one of these dogs to be returned stateside after serving overseas the handler himself must pay, at great expense, out of his own pocket to fly the dog home himself.
This unacceptable trend cannot be allowed to continue. For the tireless work these animals do saving human lives in combat conditions, they deserve at the very least to be brought home when the handler’s tour has concluded. No living thing, be it human or animal, should be treated as merely disposable equipment to be discarded when no longer of use. I urge you to lend your voice in demanding that the government bring these animals home so that they may be honored in the fashion that they deserve.
Dear Secretary Panetta,
Dogs have been serving in the United States Military for almost as long as the nation has had a military to serve in. These animals first officially contributed as members of US Army in the Seminole Wars of 1814-1819. They were both protectors and messengers during the American Civil War, as well as becoming popular enough to serve as mascots adorning propaganda posters during the First World War. The history of military service dogs has been long and distinguished in this country.
At its peak during the Vietnam War over 5,000 dogs served in varying capacities in the armed forces, saving an estimated 10,000 military and civilian lives during the course of the war. Sadly, this did not come without a cost as 232 dogs lost their lives in the line of duty during the Vietnam War. That number is far exceeded by those who became casualties of policy as only 200 dogs were transferred to other US bases at the conclusion of the conflict, with the rest being either euthanized or left behind in Vietnam.
This unfortunate trend continues even in the military today. Because these animals are deemed as expendable equipment they are not permitted to return home after a handler’s tour is concluded. The only way for one of these dogs to be returned stateside after having served overseas is for the handler himself to pay, at great expense, out of his own pocket to fly the dog home. While all would do so if they could, many are simply not able to financially, and thus compelled to abandon a fellow soldier.
This unacceptable trend cannot be allowed to continue. After tireless work saving human lives in combat conditions, these animals deserve, at the very least, to be allowed to return home. No living thing, be it human or animal, should be treated as merely disposable equipment to be discarded when no longer of use. I strongly urge you to bring these animals home so that they may be honored in the fashion that they deserve.
[Your Name Here]