Dogs have often been lauded throughout history for their heroic efforts, and Cairo, the canine that helped the SEALs catch Osama Bin Laden is no exception. Since the media reported Cairo’s involvement in the special ops mission, public interest has risen on the military’s efforts to find good homes for his four-legged compatriots.
"They made a really big deal about Cairo being a super dog, but all dogs in the military are super dogs," said Ron Aiello, president of the U.S. War Dogs Association. "These dogs are fully trained, are worth probably $40,000 to $50,000 each, at least, and it's a dog that has been saving American lives. It's kind of a hero in a way."
The practice of using dogs in war efforts may be as old as the invention of war itself, but sadly, the common practice through to the first Gulf war was to euthanize the canines.
That changed in 2000 when the Clinton administration signed a law allowing for the adoption of military dogs after their tours of duty. Contrary to popular belief, dogs trained in military tactics are highly responsive and loyal, their training focused on patrolling. In short, military dogs are not trained to be attack dogs and would make good house pets.
Gerry Proctor, a spokesperson for the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, said no dogs are euthanized now. "All the animals find a home," he said. "There's a six-month waiting list right now for people wanting to adopt. And (the applications) have gone up substantially since the raid."
Adopting a military canine is free, but the adopter is responsible for the cost of travelling to Lackland Air Force Base and transporting the dog back to their home.
For more information on adopting military dogs, visit the 37th Training Wing.
A request for application can be found here.
Learn more about military dog adoptions and other services that support veterans at these sites:
Image: The U.S. Army / via Flickr
Note from the editor: This article has been updated from when it was originally written in 2011.