Partnership offers returning military dogs free veterinary care


American Humane Association, Red Bank Veterinary Hospital and The United States War Dogs Association come to aid of retiring military and contract working dogs.

In honor of Veterans Day and military dogs, the paws on the ground will receive their due for their service.

Military Working Dog Maxi, a Belgian Malinois, served two years in Japan with handler Cpl. Jonathan Cavender. Photo courtesy of American Humane Association.

American Humane Association (AHA), The United States War Dogs Association and Red Bank Veterinary Hospital have launched an initiative to care for battlefield canines, with Red Bank providing free specialty veterinary care to all retiring military working dogs and contract working dogs. The effort underscores dogs' critical role in the military.

By sniffing out devastating IEDs and enemy weapon caches, each dog saves an estimated 150 to 200 human soldiers. However, their value extends beyond official duties because they become companions for their military comrades. Dogs provide comfort and a reminder of home for their brothers and sisters in arms, according to an AHA release.

Despite their contributions, the furry service members face struggles after retirement. Regulations prohibit federal funds from covering their medical care. In light of this, AHA representatives addressed Congress this summer and challenged the private industry to recognize the situation and create a program to help. 

“At our Capitol Hill briefing in July we not only called on the Congress to ensure a safe ride home and happy retirement for all military working dogs and contract working dogs, but we also asked the private sector to step up and establish a veterinary care fund for these dogs after they come home,” says Robin Ganzert, AHA's president and CEO. "We and U.S. War Dogs Association are honored to see that the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital have answered our call to ensure a healthy retirement for these canine heroes.”

Dr. Anthony DeCarlo, VMD, co-founder of Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, says the program acknowledges the dogs' sacrifices. The group will use its five hospitals across New Jersey to provide specialty care for these dogs as they retire from military duty.

“For more than 25 years, Red Bank Veterinary Hospital has been a leader in providing veterinary care to the animals of New Jersey, but we now want to be known as the leader in veterinary care for our veteran dogs,” he says. “American Humane Association and the U.S. War Dogs Association have done laudable work in helping to bring home these heroes and give them the recognition they deserve, and it is the least we can do to use our world-class team of veterinary professionals to provide whatever care the dogs may need.”

Ron Aiello, president of The United States War Dogs Association, says the military considers dogs essential, but they are not guaranteed medical care.

“We are pleased to work with American Humane Association and Red Bank Veterinary Hospital to provide essential, lifesaving veterinary care for these brave four-legged warriors,” he says.

Ryky, a Belgian Malinois, served in Iraq and Afghanistan with Sgt. James Harrington.

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