Dogs have often been lauded throughout history for their heroic efforts, and Cairo, the canine that helped the SEALs catch Osama Bin Laden is no exception. Since the media reported Cairo’s involvement in the special ops mission, public interest has risen on the military’s efforts to find good homes for his four-legged compatriots.
"They made a really big deal about Cairo being a super dog but all dogs in the military are super dogs," said Ron Aiello, president of the U.S. War Dogs Association. "These dogs are fully trained, are worth probably $40,000 to $50,000 each at least, and it's a dog that has been saving American lives. It's kind of a hero in a way."
The practice of using dogs in war efforts may be as old as the invention of war itself, but sadly, the common practice through to the first Gulf war was to euthanize the canines.
But, in 2000, the Clinton administration signed a law allowing for the adoption of military dogs after their tour of duty. Contrary to popular belief, dogs trained in military tactics are highly responsive and loyal, their training focused on patrolling. In short, military dogs are not trained to be attack dogs, and would make a good house pet.
Gerry Proctor, a spokesperson for the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio said no dogs are euthanized now. "All the animals find a home," he added. "There's a six-month waiting list right now for people wanting to adopt. And (the applications) have gone up substantially since the raid."
Debbie Kandoll founded Military Dog Adoptions, the nonprofit organization that arranges for military dogs to find good homes. She and Aiello assist in all aspects of raising awareness for military dog adoption, as well as helping people through the adoption process.
Adopting a military canine is more expensive than a usual pet adoption at around $1,000 to $2,000 payments needed to bring the dogs back on commercial flights. After serving their tour of duty, canines are considered equipment, and it is against the rules to transport the dogs back to the United States in a military cargo plane.
“Uncle Sam gave the dogs a ride over. He should give them a ride back," Kandoll said. Dogs like Cairo, who will likely find a new adopted home in no time.
For more information on adopting military dogs, go to:
Image: The U.S. Army / via Flickr