Candice Chandler, Global Animal

First implemented by the Romans, “war dogs” serve an important purpose to soldiers in times of war. Their keen senses, loyalty, and intelligence provide militaries throughout the world with an irreplaceable technology. Former Marine Corporal Megan Leavey worked with one of the many dogs trained for combat, and she is now fighting to adopt her fellow soldier to save his life before time runs out and her comrade is euthanized. 

Former Marines Corporal Megan Leavey holding a picture of her four-legged fellow soldier. Photo Credit: Peter Carr/The Journal News

Sergeant Rex, Cpl. Leavey’s military dog, worked beside her on two tours sniffing out bombs in Iraq. In 2006, a roadside bomb exploded while the duo were patrolling. Cpl. Leavey’s career in the Marines ended due to near death injuries, while Sergeant Rex continued his service after he recovered from injuries. Rex is now 10 years old, and his time in the military is over. Suffering from facial paralysis, Rex’s life is now in jeopardy if a suitable guardian cannot be found.

Once thought of as “surplus equipment,” military dogs can now retire comfortably after years of hard work. After former President Bill Clinton passed “Robby’s Law” (H.R.5314), war dogs who are suitable for adoption can live out their lives in peace. Now, 90% of canine soldiers are adopted after retirement, provided they are cleared for civilian life before their euthanasia deadline. 

Priority for adoption is given to the handlers of military dogs, which is why Cpl. Leavey is determined to give Rex the retirement he deserves. Leavey is beginning the long bureaucratic process with the Marines to make sure she will become his permanent guardian. The process of adopting a retired military working dog is laborious due to the precautionary measures taken to protect the general public once the dog retired. The problem is that the deadline for Rex’s euthanasia is approaching while the Marine Corp dithers. 

 Cpl. Leavey has even reached out to higher officials for help. Senator Charles Schumer has told the Marines to expedite the adoption application to quicken the process. The added attention has helped Rex’s predicament, but his situation is still uncertain. 

Cpl. Leavey doesn’t just respect her four-legged sidekick, she sees him as an equal. “Rex is my partner; I love him,” Leavey told MSNBC. “We have been through so much together…I’ve spent day and night with this dog. It’s a very strong bond.” 

Serving their countries, these skilled animals give their lives to protect people. The fact that these soldiers fight on four legs instead of two should not decide their fate. These dogs are war heroes who deserve to enjoy a relaxing retirement after serving in combat.