Care of military working dogs at heart of legislation
Brandee Moyer, a dog handler with the Provost Marshalâ€™s Office, and Maj. Jason M. Wintermute, the officer in charge of PMO, retires Rambo, a military working dog, during a ceremony Aug. 17, aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. During the ceremony, Moyer handed Rambo's leash to his new owner, Lisa P. Phillips, the chief executive officer of the Retired Military Working Dog Assistance Organization.
Havelock News, N.C.
HAVELOCK, N.C. — Sgt. Rambo injured his shoulder during training back in April. The devastating injury will likely result in amputation.
But Rambo is no ordinary soldier. Rambo is a designated military working dog.
Military working dogs that can be killed saving lives shouldn’t be designated as “equipment,” according to Lisa Phillips, who adopted Rambo last week after the dog’s retirement ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
“Equipment doesn’t bleed” Phillips said.
Rambo is one of 10 working dogs aboard the base and with units serving in war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. The 4-month-old German shepherd never got the opportunity to serve overseas because of the injury.
Phillips, with the Retired Military Working Dogs Assistance Organization, drove up from Texas to adopt Rambo. She and U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., used the occasion to bring awareness to a new bill before Congress called the Support the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act.
“It’s just a wonderful thing that after the time is over for these dogs to serve this nation that these dogs should have an opportunity to have a quality life, and this will ensure that,” Jones said of the legislation. “It’s just a real win, and we’re real excited about it.”
Jones attended and spoke at the retirement ceremony at the base and met with the media at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center afterward.
The bill that has passed in the House and is under consideration in the Senate will raise the status of working dogs, Jones said. He said it would ensure that service dogs will not been viewed as equipment and that those adopting them receive help from a designated nonprofit group.
Phillips’ organization is one of the nonprofit organizations that stand to benefit from the legislation.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” Jones said. “These dogs are very committed to America’s freedom. Those who fight the wars for our country who are dog handlers, they say these dogs are just like a comrade. And many of these dogs have given there life saving Americans on the battlefield by sniffing out IEDs, and the dog has always been part of war, but even more so now because of terrorism. These dogs are invaluable.”
The training of a military dog can cost $70,000 to $100,000, Jones said.
“They are pretty expensive but you really can’t put a price on them because of the work that they do for the military,” he said.
Philips said the military considers the injured dog surplus.
“He can’t work. He can’t deploy,” she said. “I’m just honored to be able to give him the care that he needs and that he deserves.”
Phillips said Rambo will serve as a junior mascot for the Retired Military Working Dogs Assistance Organization.
At his retirement ceremony aboard base, the other working dogs seemed to know Rambo was headed off, Phillips said.
“The other dogs started barking in the background almost like a send off for Rambo,” she said.
Phillips said Rambo’s injured shoulder and arthritis are painful, so the dog must be medicated. Soon he will be taking it easy.
“He’ll be very happy to be on the couch and on the bed,” Phillips said. “He has many more years of life in front of him.”