Healthcare initiative unveiled for retired military, police dogs


Rimadyl K-9 Courage Program will provide $300 annually for care for up to 500 dogs.

Animal healthcare company Zoetis has created a program to care for dogs retired from military and police ranks.

The program will provide up to 500 recipients with $300 per year on a debit card that can be used for veterinary clinic services such as exams, vaccinations and grooming. Zoetis' Rimadyl (carprofen) product sponsors the initiative. 

Ret. Cpl. Matthew FosterRet. Cpl. Matthew Foster, who served in the Marines in Afghanistan as a K-9 handler, told dvm360 that military working dogs are put through strenuous physical challenges during their time with their units. They jump up and down into vehicles dozens of times every day, climb over rocky and uneven terrain, are exposed to extreme temperatures and weather events, inhale the “moon dust” unique to Central Asia and even experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

This means these animals have a unique set of health needs in their later years-osteoarthritis, paw pad trauma and difficulty regulating core body temperature, for example. Part of Zoetis' goal with the program is to gather data on these dogs' utilization of veterinary services and eventually develop a standardized treatment protocol for retired military and police working dogs, says Zoetis' Sharon Campbell, DVM, MS, DACVIM.

Partnering with The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve and the National Police Dog Foundation (NPDF) to promote the program and screen applicants, Zoetis is donating an additional $10,000 to both of the groups to aid their efforts to help service dogs. The company's total contributions to the cause total up to $170,000.

Diane Whetsel, board chairwoman for The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve, says the dogs serve a vital role.

“Military and contract working dogs (MWDs and CWDs) have saved countless lives by detecting explosive devices, locating weapons caches and alerting to enemy locations in war zones around the world,” Whetsel says in a Zoetis release. 

J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP, group director of Companion Animal Veterinary Operations for Zoetis, says the company is honored to recognize the dogs' service.

“The relationship between military and police officers and their canine partners is a prime example of the human-animal bond in action,” McFarland says. “These dogs have risked their lives and served courageously to help keep us safe at home and overseas. We are pleased to help support their veterinary care so these brave dogs can remain comfortable in their retirement years.”

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