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February 01, 2021

Military to track combat injuries in working dogs

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A military spending bill passed by Congress at the start of the new year includes provisions that will improve the health and welfare of military working dogs and promote responsible dog ownership in military communities.

Maj. McGraw examines a military working dog
Maj. Andrew McGraw of the Army Veterinary Corps (right) examines a military working dog in 2010 at Lackland Air Force Base. (Photo by Lt. Col. Deanna Bague/Army)

President Donald Trump had initially vetoed the $741 billion National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 23, 2020, after lawmakers declined to add a provision repealing an internet liability law as requested by the president. Both the House and Senate subsequently overrode the veto, on Dec. 28 and Jan. 1, respectively.

Military working dogs are highly trained canine soldiers that serve in combat operations around the world. Language in the defense authorization act is a key step in creating an MWD Trauma Registry to track the leading causes of morbidity and mortality of military working dogs in combat.

The AVMA says the registry 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 (Department of Defense) develops and implements the trauma registry and provides additional trauma training to Army (Veterinary) Corps veterinarians so they may develop the most effective treatments for military working dogs’ combat injuries,” the Association said in a statement.

The act also directs the Defense Department to adopt a uniform policy on pets in military communities, to be developed in consultation with the veterinary profession. The AVMA anticipates that its policies on dangerous animals, animal control, and other topics will be used to support 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,” the AVMA said.