807 brave dogs who served on the front lines with British soldiers have paid the ultimate price for their service.
The scandal was revealed after government officials confirmed the figures in response to Freedom of Information requests from the Daily Mirror. Saying that many of the dogs are too fierce to be retrained as pets, the UK government has been quietly killing them off in droves. Ironically, the dogs survived the dangers of war only to die from the prick of a vet’s needle, and dog lovers worldwide are mourning their loss while demanding answers.
Of the 807 dogs killed in the past decade, the majority were put down after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defense said twenty canines were euthanized in 2002: that figure rose to 89 in 2003 when the Second Gulf War began. 95 dogs were killed in 2006, but the worst year for British war dogs was 2009, when 125 of them were put down.
Labour MP Kerry McCarthy called the practice a tragedy. “This is shocking. It seems a great shame that animals are destroyed in this way. We need to make sure that every effort is made to find them new homes.”
The Ministry of Defense claims that more recent euthanizations were prompted by behavioral issues or old age, and that sniffer dogs do typically retire with their handlers. But in a recent statement, a government spokesperson admitted that retraining is considered ineffective for many dogs, who are often ‘too dangerous’ be rehomed.
The Dogs Trust, one of the largest and most respected British animal welfare organizations, has issued a strong statement against the ‘premature euthanasia’ of working dogs when retired, and said that every effort to rehome the dogs should be made before taking their lives.
A concerned reader has created a petition to urge the British government to reconsider the euthanization of war dogs. Should you wish to sign it, you may do so here: Ministry of Defense and David Cameron: Stop the killing of War Dogs