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News > Feature - Military working dogs are available for adoption, fostering
Military working dogs are available for adoption, fostering

Posted 11/11/2011   Updated 11/10/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Alex Salinas
502nd Air Base Wing Operating Location Brave


11/11/2011 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, RANDOLPH -- Man's best friend has etched his way into the pages of military history since the time of ancient Greek warfare, and their work is still being used today in the Air Force. The 341st Training Squadron on Lackland Air Force Base has the mission of operating the Military Working Dog Program, including the MWD Adoption Program, which has branched out to the operations and populace at Randolph.

According to the 341st TRS website, the Air Force began using dogs for sentry duty following World War II, when its first dog school opened at Showa Air Station, Japan, in 1952. The Army would train and supply dogs to the Air Force sentry school until 1958, when the Sentry Dog Training Branch was established at Lackland.

The 341st TRS is responsible for procuring and giving initial training to the MWDs, which breeds consist of German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, then sending them to military installations worldwide to be made operationally ready.

Tech. Sgt. Darrell Williams, 902nd Security Forces Squadron kennel master, has a unique vantage point with the 341st TRS, both working in conjunction with them in his daily duties as well as having adopted a Belgian Malinois from the program.

"I make sure all of the dogs in my K-9 unit are properly trained and are operationally ready for combat," Williams said. Williams currently oversees six dogs in his unit.

"For the program, we look for dogs that have a knack for wanting to hunt and who tap into their natural hunting abilities," Williams said. "We then manipulate their natural abilities to prepare them for what they are assigned to do by the 341st TRS," which include patrol, explosives detection and narcotics detection.

The Belgian Malinois is a dog of choice, particularly for its extremely high energy level, sense of smell, strength and intelligence.

"People have a misconception that we look for killer aggressive dogs," Williams said. "If that were the case, we would not be able to control them, and controlling their behavior and abilities is key in making them ready for combat."

Given proper attention and training, the Belgian Malinois is an ideal breed for adoption.
Williams adopted Nneenee, a female Belgian Malinois, a year ago.

"They're high-energy dogs that require high-energy people," Williams said. "You have to make sure to do activities with them. Because of their energy and intelligence, they tend to get bored quickly; you can't just give them a bone. This is what makes them great family dogs, however. Children and the dog can equally wear each other out."
Having a large yard and taking the Belgian Malinois out for frequent walks is recommended, Williams said.

Anyone can adopt dogs from the MWD program once they are listed. The process requires an application to be filled out, accessed via www.lackland.af.mil/units/341stmwd/index.asp, and then an interview. The wait list for the 341st TRS adoption program is currently 12-18 months, Williams said, especially after news got out that the Navy SEALs team who killed Osama Bin Laden were aided by a trained dog.

"People like the idea of having a military-affiliated dog," Williams said. "However, an alternative is to sign up to foster them," a separate program within the 341st TRS that allows Belgian Malinois puppies 8-9 weeks old to be sent out to a foster family until they are 6 months old, then are sent back to the program. In this way, people can gauge whether or not they like the breed, Williams said.

Along with an application, families must live within a two-hour radius of the San Antonio area, have no children under the age of 4, have a fenced backyard and have no more than three personal dogs.

Wendy Larrabee, wife of a Randolph airman, has fostered five puppies in a row from the foster program.

"It's a lot of work," Larrabee said. "You must expose them and socialize them to different situations. Like people, dogs have their own personalities and need to be kept up with.

But I love giving back to the military, and I definitely consider adopting one of these dogs. They deserve to be treated like kings and queens."

Contact the 341st TRS at 671-3125 for adoption information or call Dave Garcia at the foster program at 671-3686.

MWD Q&A

Q: How do military working dogs become part of the Department of Defense adoption program?
A: The dogs that are typically adopted are dogs that did not pass the rigorous certification process to become a MWD and were not selected by civilian law enforcement agencies for duty or are older dogs who have been retired from military duty.

Q: How long is the wait to adopt a retired MWD?
A: The current wait to adopt a retired MWD is 12-18 months.

Q: What does the adoption process consist of?
A: The adoption process begins with an application that can be found at
mwd.adoptions@us.af.mil.

Q: What's the cost of adopting?
A: The dogs are free to adopt, but the adopter will have to pay for transportation to and from Lackland Air Force Base.

Q: If the dogs are not adopted, are they euthanized?
A: The DoD never euthanizes dogs because a suitable home cannot be found.
For more information, call John Engstrom at 671-3402 or 1-800-531-1066.
 



tabComments
4/27/2013 4:03:47 PM ET
What is the typical age of a dog when retired from military duty
QD, Arizona
 
3/8/2013 5:35:19 PM ET
Also looking for a female Belgian Malinois.
Donny Hatfield, Sevierville TN
 
1/30/2013 1:49:23 PM ET
Are there any female Belgian Malinois available for adoption I am very interested in a smaller female for companion and watch dog. Thanks
Pam, Mississippi
 
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