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Can New Media Cause One Person to Change the Status of Military Working Dogs from Equipment?
Posted on : 04/21/2014 03:03:17 PM

In the words of soldiers and civilians, they are our brothers, our sisters, our buddies, our comrades in arms, our heroes. They have and are protecting Secretaries of Defense to Presidents. They comfort children and troops alike, and manage to make them smile and laugh. They have even made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Our Military Working Dogs are many, many things but they are not our equipment.

About a year ago, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. It included a set of hard fought provisions led by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that would provide veterinary care and transportation to MWD’s for the purposes of adoption (who knew that dogs could bring Democrats and Republicans together?). The bill gained a groundswell of support from Facebook, YouTube and numerous online petition sites. It was a terrific step forward. However, at the last minute a very important part of the bill was removed – one that would have changed the military’s classification of MWD’s from “equipment” to “Canine Members of the Armed Forces.”

Officially, the military places dogs in the same category as trucks and photocopiers – a way of thinking that has upset many within the military. “If this was my dog, I would classify him as my brother,” Spc. Alphonzo Campbell explained to local news last year. For it’s part, the military leadership has said it will revise its manual – it just hasn’t done so and months have gone by.  

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Brit, a military therapy dog - Photo by Tom Normanly

It’s time for us to put pressure on the DOD to make sure this act of recognition is finally granted.  Right now, a passionate group of people – over 9,000 of them – have signed a petition that they intend to deliver to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James urging them to authorize the reclassification. Let’s join this effort and help them reach their goal of 10,000 signatures by signing it here on Change.org. You can also join the group’s Facebook page here for updates. Many of the signers have also left personal messages. A few of the voices include Roberta from Red Bluff, CA who writes, “Our son is in the Navy as a Master at Arms and has had several MWDs since enlisting in 2007. Not only have these dogs protected our son, they have protected other military sons and daughters. They give their best and deserve the best our country has to offer,” and Nikki from Newport, TN, “These brave soldier dogs deserve to be more than just acknowledged, they deserve to be honored for the rest of their lives. Don’t call them equipment; call them life savers.”

Can New Media influence one person to sign a paper that in turn will dignify our Military Working Dogs? Yes, it can and that time is long overdue and now.

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