Photo courtesy of Sportsman Channel

Photo courtesy of Sportsman Channel

This week marks the premiere of Sportsman Channel’s latest TV series “Saving Private K9” hosted by R. Lee Ermey, aka The Gunny. (Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. ET). The network is already receiving inquiries as to how and where civilians can adopt a Military Working Dog (MWD) and while there is MUCH information out there, I hope this can break it down a little easier.

There are several groups involved in the care of military and police K9s after they’ve been “retired.” And thankfully, as of 2000, under the “Robby Law” any war dogs that are deemed safe for civilians can by adopted by law-enforcement agencies, military handlers and the public. This means that before “Robby Law,” even the handlers who have spent so much time with their canines in war couldn’t adopt them once they returned home. Unfortunately, there is still much ground to be had as MWDs and civilian contractor dogs are considered “equipment” in the military and well, have a shelf life.

The same year the “Robby Law” went into effect, several former handlers formed the U.S. War Dogs Association [], with the goal of raising public awareness about the role of war dogs. And, in memory of the loyal, four-legged partners they were forced to leave behind in Vietnam, the group also raises funds to erect memorials, honoring their decades of service and sacrifice.

All MWDs are sent to the Lackland AFB after they return home to receive medical clearance – and some are even treated for the post-traumatic stress disorder that often afflicts both two- and four-legged soldiers living and working in war zones. Retired war dogs also go through a battery of tests to determine their level of aggressiveness and how suitable they are for life in the civilian world.  Be warned that the adoption process via Lackland is a long and arduous process with wait times up to 12 to 18 months.


  • The Pentagon oversees the military working dog program.
  • Military working dogs have been serving alongside U.S. troops since World War I.
  • Of the thousands of military working dogs that served in Vietnam, only about 200 returned to the United States.
  • Roughly 3,000 war dogs are serving at locations around the world.
  • It is a punishable offense in the military to mistreat a dog.
  • Military working dogs are treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • More than 300 retired war dogs are put up for adoption every year.

SOURCE: ‘The Dogs of War: The Courage, Love and Loyalty of Military Working Dogs,’ by Lisa Rogue

Where to Adopt MWDs and Civilian Contractor Dogs



  1. James Braaten on May 15, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Nice post!

  2. Michelle on May 19, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    thanks Jim!