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Don't Let Slip the Dogs of War: An Argument for Reclassifying Military Working Dogs as "Canine Members of the Armed Forces"

By Michael J. Kranzler

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Dogs have been an integral part of military activities around the world dating back more than two thousand years.  They have fended off invasions and helped bring down one of the world's most notorious terrorist leaders.  Yet under current law, they are afforded nearly the same protections as a torn uniform or a jammed rifle, classified in the United States Code as "excess equipment." Historically, this led to hundreds of dogs being euthanized each year because the United States had no legal obligation to bring this excess equipment home at the end of their deployments. While recent legislation has commenced a shift toward equal treatment of Military Working Dogs and their human counterparts, that process has slowed.  New legislation will be necessary in order to give these soldiers the treatment in the eyes of the law that they have earned.
This Note will delve into recent scientific studies exploring canine cognition, the burgeoning discussion on animals, specifically dogs, gaining "quasi-personhood," general laws pertaining to dogs, and the history of Military Working Dogs have been classified under modern American law. Finally, it will discuss the pending legislation that would change the law's basic approach to Military Working Dogs so as to reflect, as argued in this article, that, based on their contributions, accomplishments, and cognitive capabilities, Military Working Dogs are far more that mere equipment, and it would be in the best interests of the military for them to be considered on par with their human soldier counterparts. The author will ultimately suggest that Military Working Dogs (hereinafter "MWDs") should be reclassified under the United States Code as "Canine Members of the Armed Forces."     


Katie Carroll

Date 2014
Publication Title Miami National Security & Armed Conflict Law Review
Volume 4
Pages 268-294
Publisher University of Miami School of Law
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Classification
  5. Dogs
  6. Law and legal issues
  7. Mammals
  8. Military
  9. Military dogs
  10. veterans
  11. Working animals