Military working dogs not only save the lives of 150 to 200 service members each year by detecting roadside bombs and other dangers, they also can help veterans deal with the effects of post-traumatic stress. Until recently, though, they faced an uncertain future after retirement, with no guarantee that they would be brought back to the U.S. or reunited with their handlers. The good news is that Congress passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a mandate for the dogs to be brought back to the United States after their retirement and gives handlers first right of adoption.
▪ Janet Wilhelm was storing dog food in a bin in her garage when she slipped and fell, landing on her left hip and fracturing her pelvis in five places. The McKinney, Texas, woman couldn’t move, and her husband wasn’t at home. But Mabel, the black Labrador retriever the Wilhelms adopted three years ago, was on the job. Wilhelm grabbed Mabel’s collar, and the dog began backing up, inching Wilhelm toward the house, a 20-foot journey that took 1 1/2 hours. Wilhelm finally was able to reach a phone and call for help. Like the bumper sticker says, “Who rescued whom?”
▪ A grassroots organization called Collide in New York City has a special purpose: It serves homeless people with pets. The volunteers help people and pets living on the streets with food, veterinary care and licensing. The organization’s goal is to improve quality of life for both people and animals. A volunteer veterinarian provides checkups, vaccinations and medication if needed. Working with the Humane Society of NYC, Collide also offers access to a spay/neuter clinic for pets. During inclement weather, the organization offers emergency boarding services for pets so their people can seek shelter where animals might not be permitted. For information about helping, see collidenyc.org.
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton, author of many pet-care books. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com. Dr. Becker can also be found at facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker.