When a dog isn't a dog
A U.S. Army soldier and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a Chinook helicopter during water training over the Gulf of Mexico
January 6th, 2012
01:55 PM ET

When a dog isn't a dog

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

When an insurgent rocket attack badly injured Cpl. Dustin Lee while he was on patrol in Iraq, his shrapnel-impaled partner, Lex, picked himself up to lie over Lee - an effort to protect him.

"He knew Dustin was injured," said Lee's mom, Rachel. Lex was his bomb-sniffing dog.

Lee didn't survive his injuries, but Lex did - and became a part of the Lee family when Rachel adopted him.

"When Dustin was killed, one of the first things I asked about was Lex, because of their camaraderie. They depended on each other"

Lex, a German shepherd, served in the Marines as a military working dog.

There are about 2,700 dogs serving worldwide, according to the Defense Department. Roughly 600 of these dogs are deployed in designated war zones overseas, including Afghanistan, areas of Africa and Kuwait.

These "war dogs" are used on patrols, in drug and explosives detection, and on specialized missions, like the Navy SEAL raid that took down Osama bin Laden last year.

But while these dogs walk side by side with their troop handlers or go on jumps from helicopters in service members' arms, the Defense Department classifies military working dogs as "equipment," a term that advocates want changed.

"These dogs are more soldiers than they are equipment," said Debbie Kandoll, founder of Military Working Dog Adoptions.

Kandoll, who helps civilians adopt military working dogs, estimates that the average war dog saves 150 soldier lives during its service.

Dogs have been serving in military conflicts since World War I, returning home after the conflicts ended. But thousands of dogs were left behind during the Vietnam War. Of the roughly 4,900 dogs that the United States used in Vietnam, around 2,700 were turned over to the South Vietnamese army, and a staggering 1,600 were euthanized, according to veteran and former Marine dog handler Ron Aiello.

"Equipment you can leave behind," Kandoll said. "We've left tanks in Iraq. Everywhere we've been, we've left stuff. If you reclassify them as manpower, then you can't leave them."

Today, dogs are no longer left in war zones. In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a law that allowed the dogs to be adopted by former handlers, law enforcement agencies and civilians. But Kandoll says this law didn't go far enough and is pushing for an amendment to include the reclassification of war dogs.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, agrees that a new classification is needed to elevate the "solider dog." Jones has been working on a bill that would reclassify the dogs as "K-9 members of the armed forces" and provide a way for the Defense Department to honor the dogs with official medals.

"Those who have been to war tell me that the dogs are invaluable," he said. "That they are just as much a part of a unit as a soldier or Marine. They are buddies."

Jones has submitted the proposed legislation to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost review. A response is expected by mid-February.

Despite the classification, the military says the dogs are respected.

"While there is a proper, legal classification for a working dog, we know they are living things, and we have great respect and admiration for them," said Lackland Air Force Base spokesman Gerry Proctor. The dogs are trained at Lackland. "A handler would never speak of their dog as a piece of equipment. The dog is their partner. You can walk away from a damaged tank, but not your dog. Never."

But if the dogs are retired on an overseas base, the military will not provide for their transportation back home, a practice that Kandoll says is like leaving them behind.

"The day the dog is retired, the dog is considered excess equipment and not entitled to any transport back," she said.

When a dog is retired on an overseas base and is adopted by someone in the United States, the adopter is charged the dog's shipping cost, which can be up to $2,000.

"It is essentially the same as a government surplus sale," Proctor said. "If the government has a surplus sale in Ramstein, Germany, and sells you a truck, then should the American taxpayer be on the hook to get that truck back to your house in Atlanta? The government doesn't own it once you buy it."

"That doesn't make sense to me," said Aiello, who thinks the military should wait to retire a dog until it's back in the United States. This way, it will be entitled to transportation benefits.

Kandoll says the cost to the taxpayer to send the dogs home would be minimal.

"We have half-empty military cargo transport planes transversing the globe daily. It would be more than feasible to place a retired military working dog on the transport plane back to the continental United States," Kandoll said. "Uncle Sam got them over there, and it's a point of honor for Uncle Sam to get his soldiers, whether they are four-legged or two-legged, back to the U.S."

But once home and placed with an adoptive family, medical bills are sure to stack up. Many of these retired dogs are more than 9 years old and are plagued with battlefield issues such as arthritis and even post-traumatic stress disorder. The Defense Department, Kandoll says, should allow military veterinarians to treat retired dogs.

A dog's medical history however is made clear during the adoption process, according to the Defense Department.

"So they go into it eyes wide open," Proctor said. "If you buy that truck, how far do you want the American taxpayer to be on the hook for the truck's oil changes and tuneups for its life?"

A one-month supply of all the medication the dog needs is also given to the adopter to ensure that the adoptive family has enough time to procure veterinary care for the animal, according to Proctor.

The brave dog Lex that stayed by his handler's side until the end is now 11 years old. He is doing well but has PTSD and pieces of shrapnel that cause spinal complications, Rachel Lee said.

"To be able to reclassify them would be to also get them help in a better manner," Lee said. "To be able to have them looked at differently - as a vet, as a soldier and to give them benefits."

Post by:
Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • Middle East • Military
soundoff (1,632 Responses)
  1. cyclomune

    buy cyclomune online cyclosporine lab tube

    May 24, 2021 at 8:12 am | Reply
  2. Greryclilteta

    https://tadalafilww.com/ tadalafil daily online https://cttadalafil.com/ – prescription tadalafil online tadalafil order online no prescription

    May 24, 2021 at 7:40 am | Reply
  3. Gtnbclups

    sublingual viagra https://jokviagra.com/ snort viagra

    May 24, 2021 at 5:23 am | Reply
  4. BbshVelm

    viagra online no prescription https://loxviagra.com/ – viagra pill price walgreens generic viagra

    May 24, 2021 at 12:01 am | Reply
  5. Greryclilteta

    tadalafil cialis https://cttadalafil.com/ – tadalafil without a doctor prescription side effects of tadalafil where to buy tadalafil on line cialis without prescription

    May 23, 2021 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  6. apposyattance

    generic cialis tadalafil https://cttadalafil.com/ – buy generic cialis online with mastercard tadalafil cost in canada generic cialis tadalafil where to order tadalafil tablets

    May 23, 2021 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  7. BbshVelm

    how to make viagra work faster https://loxviagra.com/ viagra para mujeres

    May 23, 2021 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  8. spearfDrore

    where to buy tadalafil on line buy tadalis side effects of tadalafil generic cialis online fast shipping https://tadalafilol.com/

    May 23, 2021 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  9. Rebffiple

    buy cialis on line overnight https://rcialisgl.com/ lowest price on cialis 200 mg

    May 23, 2021 at 9:09 am | Reply
  10. Jerroldmok

    Прогон вашего сайта или обьявления по статьям, комментариям, форумам!
    Прогон сайта по профилям!
    Прогон обьявления по комментариям!
    Прогон сайта по форумам!
    Прогон обьявления по форумам!

    Рост ИКС!

    Рост позиций по ВЧ, СЧ, НЧ и даже по коммерческим запросам на десятки страниц.

    Заказы исполняюся аккуратно!

    Наш сайт: progonx.ru

    Почта для вопросов: Progon-x@yandex.ru

    Климатический хаос вызванный глобальным потеплением почти неизбежен

    May 23, 2021 at 3:05 am | Reply
  11. Lbsofiple

    viagra vs cialis side effects https://ucialisdas.com/ cialis 60 mg

    May 22, 2021 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  12. Svetlanaypa

    Рекомендую Вам хорошую пасеку, на которой покупаю большой ассортимент продукции как для себя таки для своих знакомых.
    Пчеловоды высылают всю продукцию пчеловодства на отлично, советы как пользоваться по важным вопросам дают. Очень много качественных статей на сайте, Вот несколько из них:

    Одним словом они молодцы и я их советую.
    Вот их портал где я покупал продукцию – https://med-na-dom.com/

    May 22, 2021 at 2:20 am | Reply
  13. Svetlanaryt

    Советую Вам отличную пасеку, на которой покупаю большой ассортимент продукции как для себя таки для своих друзей.
    Пчеловоды оформляют всю пчелопродукцию на отменно, консультации по важным вопросам дают. Очень много нужных статей на блоге, Вот несколько из них:

    Одним словом они молодцы и я их советую.
    Вот их интернет ресурс где я покупал иммуностимулирующие продукты – https://med-na-dom.com/

    May 22, 2021 at 2:19 am | Reply
  14. Svetlanacug

    Советую Вам отличную пасеку, на которой заказываю большой ассортимент продуктов пчеловодства как для себя таки для своих друзей.
    Пчеловоды оформляют всю пчелопродукцию на пять, советы как употреблять по важным вопросам дают. Очень много качественных статей на блоге, Вот несколько из них:

    Одним словом они молодцы и я их советую.
    Вот их сайт где я оформлял иммуностимулирующие продукты – https://med-na-dom.com/

    May 22, 2021 at 2:18 am | Reply
  15. Anooreext

    similar viagra for women https://llviagra.com/ quanto tempo demora pra fazer efeito o viagra

    May 21, 2021 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  16. chloroquineorigin

    clonidine hydrochloride chloroquine for lupus aralen price usa aralen price usa https://chloroquineorigin.com/

    May 21, 2021 at 12:05 pm | Reply
  17. ZrUyGtYvzd

    pay someone to do java homework yes money can buy happiness essay music to help concentrate on homework health service delivery in china a literature review

    May 21, 2021 at 11:13 am | Reply
  18. iKqgHMDUGY

    college essay essay writing order dsbn homework help thesis rewriting service

    May 21, 2021 at 10:22 am | Reply
  19. TxNODZfyvM

    reflection about community service narrative essay about community service geometry connections homework help advanced higher history essay help

    May 21, 2021 at 12:35 am | Reply
  20. aTzPhkUOYJ

    phd dissertation writing help essay on how trees help us uk essay writing service dissertation service uk review

    May 20, 2021 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  21. Jebgreext

    script pharmacy Asendin no prescription needed pharmacy

    May 20, 2021 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  22. DftoSAvNiS

    reliable essay writing service us college essay help help me with homework answers buy essay outline

    May 20, 2021 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  23. Jebgreext

    canadian mail order pharmacy https://pharmacylo.com/ canadapharmacyonline legit

    May 20, 2021 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  24. Rebffiple

    cialis shop online http://rcialisgl.com/ buy cialis no prescription

    May 20, 2021 at 3:16 am | Reply
  25. fOjHvtgOQO

    hillsborough county homework help pay for your essay research paper on louisiana purchase have someone else do my homework

    May 20, 2021 at 3:10 am | Reply
  26. ElVZCjTTAe

    business plan lavanderia self service order of importance essay definition business plan for service delivery essay writing civil service

    May 20, 2021 at 2:17 am | Reply
  27. Fmrfreext

    cialis cena https://cialisee.com/ cialis online mastecard

    May 20, 2021 at 12:23 am | Reply
  28. NlJVWQiRdh

    literature review on repeat purchase pay for essay writing australia total jobs cv writing service literature review customer service delivery

    May 19, 2021 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  29. tLTkJIvucW

    jiskha homework help biology pay for your essay chemistry homework help and answers writing community service hours letter

    May 19, 2021 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  30. Lbsofiple

    buy cialis generic https://ucialisdas.com/ lisinopril and cialis

    May 19, 2021 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  31. FhtJiRMKCh

    year 8 history homework help essay on we should help others money doesn't buy you happiness essay gcse geography coursework help

    May 19, 2021 at 3:37 am | Reply
  32. gsmPqGporw

    beowulf study and homework help essay help tutor editing dissertation services homework help from the library in person and online

    May 19, 2021 at 2:46 am | Reply
  33. tPoqEiblPQ

    help me with algebra homework should high schools require community service essay the story of an hour response essay on doing your best

    May 18, 2021 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  34. MpzFkYSgML

    need help with my geometry homework buy a college application essay is it a good idea to listen to music while doing homework pay for essay writing

    May 18, 2021 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  35. Gtnbclups

    viagra stories https://jokviagra.com/ how to get viagra to work

    May 18, 2021 at 1:16 am | Reply
  36. NkgZdrHaXv

    essay grammar check service essay on how i help my mother in kitchen i forgot to do my homework poem traduction de do my homework

    May 17, 2021 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  37. Anooreext

    salg av viagra i norge https://llviagra.com/ ou trouver du viagra sans ordonnance a paris

    May 17, 2021 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  38. ToffDohqYi

    government homework help website to write essays writing civil service competency statements help my thesis

    May 17, 2021 at 9:38 am | Reply
  39. Rebffiple

    cialis no prescription paypal https://rcialisgl.com/ chinese cialis

    May 17, 2021 at 8:19 am | Reply
  40. Lebnreext

    canadian pharmacies that are legit pharmacy prescription promo code for canadian pharmacy meds

    May 16, 2021 at 11:30 pm | Reply
  41. Lavera Salazer

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am having problems with your RSS. I don’t know why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 16, 2021 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  42. Lbsofiple

    cialis canadian https://ucialisdas.com/ cialis paypal bezahlen

    May 16, 2021 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  43. Fmrfreext

    cialis by mail https://cialisee.com/ cialis vs viagra canadian pharmacy

    May 16, 2021 at 6:17 am | Reply
  44. Lebnreext

    Furosemide http://xlnpharmacy.com/ pharmacy in canada

    May 16, 2021 at 4:00 am | Reply
  45. akQjUydsCd

    cv writing service cardiff essay on doing homework polygon homework help law essay help

    May 16, 2021 at 3:46 am | Reply
  46. GqXSpqzWzb

    primary homework help greece athens common app essay questions help homework help with algebra homework help sites for students

    May 16, 2021 at 1:28 am | Reply
  47. Gtnbclups

    how was viagra discovered https://jokviagra.com/ – free trial viagra lemonaid health viagra reviews

    May 16, 2021 at 12:11 am | Reply
  48. combigan

    buy combigan online brimonidine eye drops

    May 15, 2021 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  49. cyclosporine

    cyclomune eye drop cyclosporine for humans

    May 15, 2021 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  50. BbshVelm

    drugs not to take with viagra https://loxviagra.com/ purchase viagra online

    May 15, 2021 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  51. Jebgreext

    onlinepharmaciescanada http://pharmacylo.com/ Viagra with Duloxetine

    May 15, 2021 at 8:20 am | Reply
  52. Jebgreext

    canadian pharmacy online viagra https://pharmacylo.com/ drug price

    May 15, 2021 at 4:01 am | Reply
  53. ANWlimBxyy

    homework help university community service experience essay homework help computer programming does homework help students learning

    May 15, 2021 at 12:09 am | Reply
  54. KJVxKAbfgB

    business plan service philippines essay help for english help in geometry homework math homework help equations

    May 14, 2021 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  55. Anooreext

    holy water viagra http://llviagra.com/ ПЂОїПѓОї ОєОїПѓП„О№О¶ОїП…ОЅ П„О± viagra

    May 14, 2021 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  56. stornobrzinol

    As I web site possessor I believe the content matter here is rattling excellent , appreciate it for your hard work. You should keep it up forever! Best of luck.


    May 14, 2021 at 5:30 am | Reply
  57. fABOtoCzZG

    essay writing editing service creative essay help cv writing service kerry experience in doing research paper

    May 13, 2021 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  58. Rebffiple

    cialis cheap generic https://rcialisgl.com/ cialis inr

    May 13, 2021 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  59. ZImdcDWiXU

    dissertation help writing an argumentative essay topic service learning project essay business plan for hire purchase

    May 13, 2021 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  60. Fmrfreext

    cialis http://cialisee.com/ cialis buy australia

    May 13, 2021 at 5:08 am | Reply
  61. Lbsofiple

    cialis windsor canada pharmacy https://ucialisdas.com/ buy cialis online

    May 13, 2021 at 12:31 am | Reply
  62. bOTmNUQbZE

    i hate doing homework with my son customer service essay writing custom writing experts school consequences for not doing homework

    May 12, 2021 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  63. DcOsnfyuNi

    order of operations fifth grade common core worksheets pick n pay essay good pandora stations for doing homework custom writing experts

    May 12, 2021 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  64. QXBaNNnhky

    romeo and juliet essay help essay help others smart physics homework help help me write my business plan

    May 11, 2021 at 9:12 am | Reply
  65. Rebffiple

    cialis professional ingredients http://rcialisgl.com/ cialis soft tabs canada

    May 11, 2021 at 6:15 am | Reply
  66. Anooreext

    where to find viagra in kenya http://llviagra.com/ viagra efeitos no organismo

    May 10, 2021 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  67. Lbsofiple

    buy cialis in mexico http://ucialisdas.com/ cialis cheap generic

    May 10, 2021 at 5:48 am | Reply
  68. Gtnbclups

    safest place to buy viagra online http://jokviagra.com/ women on viagra

    May 10, 2021 at 12:58 am | Reply
  69. Fmrfreext

    where can i buy cialis online in australia https://cialisee.com/ cialis no consultation

    May 9, 2021 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  70. Lebnreext

    cialis canada online pharmacy http://xlnpharmacy.com/ Lariam

    May 9, 2021 at 10:33 am | Reply
  71. /profile

    Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your
    weblog and in accession capital to assert
    that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to
    your feeds and even I achievement you access
    consistently rapidly.

    May 9, 2021 at 7:34 am | Reply
  72. Gtnbclups

    what does viagra do to a woman https://jokviagra.com/ what is in viagra

    May 8, 2021 at 11:10 am | Reply
  73. Lebnreext

    online drug store http://xlnpharmacy.com/ Hytrin

    May 8, 2021 at 8:39 am | Reply
  74. mNxYLSkwdM

    buy essays online uk cheap essay writing service ireland doing homework and studying 100 funny excuses for not doing your homework

    May 8, 2021 at 7:44 am | Reply
  75. nAsaqiSVJV

    service is worship essay why do we have to write essays homework help clovis ca research paper on the secret service

    May 8, 2021 at 4:41 am | Reply
  76. BbshVelm

    video of viagra working https://loxviagra.com/ 20mg viagra

    May 8, 2021 at 1:47 am | Reply
  77. Anooreext

    la differenza tra viagra e cialis https://llviagra.com/ buy viagra online cheap category

    May 7, 2021 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  78. BbshVelm

    when to take viagra https://loxviagra.com/ viagra timing

    May 7, 2021 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  79. Jebgreext

    Levitra Professional https://pharmacylo.com/ safe canadian online pharmacies

    May 7, 2021 at 8:13 am | Reply
  80. vGklrWTIfk

    statistics dissertation help tok essay introduction help homework help pages primary homework help buddhism

    May 7, 2021 at 4:38 am | Reply
  81. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine priligy tablets uk

    May 7, 2021 at 4:05 am | Reply
  82. Jebgreext

    good pill pharmacy http://pharmacylo.com/ top online pharmacy

    May 7, 2021 at 3:49 am | Reply
  83. cVDjeuiyWq

    someone do my homework online custome essays toyota company marketing strategy buy extended essay ib

    May 7, 2021 at 1:31 am | Reply
  84. inetryconydot

    AMOXIL is used to treat many different types of infections caused by bacteria, such as ear infections, bladder infections, pneumonia, gonorrhea, and E. coli or salmonella infection.
    Active Ingredient: Amoxicillin

    Ordering Amoxil Online

    Can You Buy Amoxil Online
    Buy Neurontin Online Next Day Delivery
    Buy Amoxil 500mg Online
    Amoxil Order Online
    Buy Cheap Amoxil Online
    Buy Amoxil Online
    Amoxil Order Online
    Purchasing Amoxil
    Can I Buy Amoxil Over The Counter
    Neurontin Buy
    Buy Amoxil 500mg Online
    Order Amoxil
    Can I Buy Neurontin Online
    Buy Amoxil Online Without Prescription

    May 6, 2021 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  85. what is clonidine

    what is chloroquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ where to get chloroquine

    May 6, 2021 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  86. Rebffiple

    cialis online overnight delivery https://rcialisgl.com/ cialis tadalafil paypal

    May 6, 2021 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  87. chloroquine cancer

    chloroquinr https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine tablet

    May 6, 2021 at 8:49 am | Reply
  88. dapoxetine

    priligy cost buy priligy uk

    May 6, 2021 at 7:08 am | Reply
  89. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine for sale in australia dapoxetine for sale in australia

    May 6, 2021 at 5:44 am | Reply
  90. Fmrfreext

    cialis buy on line https://cialisee.com/ – cialis cena how can i buy cialis online

    May 6, 2021 at 5:06 am | Reply
  91. Lbsofiple

    order cialis online no prescription australia https://ucialisdas.com/ generic cialis vs cialis

    May 5, 2021 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  92. bthMBowmkY

    need to buy a research paper uk essay writing service review essay writing service south africa woman in black essay help

    May 5, 2021 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  93. PD Training

    Thankfulness to my father who informed me about this webpage, this blog is truly amazing.

    May 5, 2021 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  94. QyZzMQEeJT

    purchase thesis online essay on doing good deeds where to buy thesis paper essay help my mother

    May 4, 2021 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  95. QkuJyDdBTT

    buy a college application essay afrikaans essay help victorian fashion homework help richard cory poetic devices

    May 4, 2021 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  96. Rebffiple

    cialis online http://rcialisgl.com/ cialis 20 mg from united kingdom

    May 4, 2021 at 8:32 am | Reply
  97. avana

    avana avana 50 mg

    May 4, 2021 at 6:28 am | Reply
  98. Anooreext

    when will viagra be available over the counter http://llviagra.com/ – viagra bestellen aus der schweiz is there generic viagra available

    May 3, 2021 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  99. Jaqueline Mcbroom

    bookmarked!!, I like your site!


    May 3, 2021 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  100. NkWeaTnLSV

    computer network homework help pay for english essay custom writing clothing research paper on equal pay act

    May 3, 2021 at 11:00 am | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Leave a Reply to StefGW


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.