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JoAnna Lou
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Providing for War Dogs
Deployed military pups face a shortage of rations.

Military canines in the United States date back to the First World War  Now America has the largest fleet of working dogs in the world with over 2,800 military pups. Over 600 of those dogs are currently deployed in the Middle East, where their handlers face a tough predicament when it comes to the animals’ care. 

The recent increase in troops sent to Afghanistan has led to a surge in military dogs, which has also caused a shortage in quality dog food. These high performing canines are in the field everyday, searching for explosives and accompanying patrolling soldiers. They require a special diet made in the United States that’s high in protein and other nutrients. 

The food is shipped from the U.S. to Pakistan and trucked to the troops in Afghanistan. However, space on the vehicles is limited and the priority is placed on transporting human food and supplies. The unexpected increase in both troops -- human and canine -- has put a strain on the system.

I understand that this is a hard situation all around. I can’t imagine how hard it is to deliver sufficient quality supplies. But it’s ultimately the government’s responsibility to only send troops overseas if their basic needs can be met -- human and canine.

While researching what pet lovers could do to help the K-9 teams, I discovered Girl Scout Troop 60667’s Care Packages for K9s project.  Last November, this group from Macon, Georgia wanted to show their support for military dogs and their handlers. 

The Girl Scouts started Care Packages for K9s to assemble both canine and human supplies such as training aids, grooming tools, medical supplies, and protective gear for the dogs, as well as cards created by the Girl Scouts. As of this month, they’ve collected over $3,000 in donations and have shipped over 360 pounds of supplies and equipment to 32 military working dog teams stationed all over the world.  

While Care Packages for K9s doesn’t send food, the treats and supplies are sure to bring cheer to the handlers and their trusty dogs in Afghanistan.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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