New law benefits military working dogs, pets

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Military working dog with soldier in background

AVMA helps secure animal welfare wins

New legislation passed by Congress authorizing U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) programs includes provisions that will improve the health and welfare of military working dogs and promote responsible dog ownership in military communities. 

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Military working dogs are highly trained canine soldiers that serve in combat operations around the world, safeguarding our national security and saving lives. While the DOD has developed improved approaches to the treatment of combat injuries in humans, it does not track the types of injuries sustained by military working dogs while on active duty. 

The AVMA has long supported the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps and its critical mission of providing essential medical care to military working dogs. Language included in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an important step in the creation of a trauma registry for military working dogs, which will lead to better medical outcomes for dogs injured in the line of duty. 

AVMA will continue to advocate for military working dogs by urging Congress to ensure that the DOD develops and implements the trauma registry and provides additional trauma training to Army Corps veterinarians so they may develop the most effective treatments for military working dogs’ combat injuries.

Provisions help pets in military communities

The new bill also directs the Defense Department to adopt a uniform policy on pets in military communities, to be developed in consultation with the veterinary profession. We anticipate that AVMA policies on dangerous animals, animal control, and other topics will provide great support for the DOD’s work. This is an additional opportunity for the AVMA to ensure the Defense Department adopts strong policy promoting responsible pet ownership and enhancing animal and public safety on military bases. 


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