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Photo Information

A Marine from 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, conducts training with his improvised explosive device detection dog.

Photo by Marine Corps Photo

IED detection dogs retire after heroic service

9 Nov 2012 | USMC Marine Corps Systems Command

Improvised explosive device (IED) detection dogs (IDDs) performed heroic service during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. With the reduction in forces in Afghanistan, the need for IDDs has been reduced. The current requirement is 139 dogs. All of the animals are Labrador Retrievers – there are no other breeds in this program.

The Department of Defense (DOD) has established priorities for retiring of dogs. Generally, the priorities are: 1) transfer to other DOD agencies; and 2) transfer to other federal, state and local government agencies.

The transfer process involves inviting other agencies to visit the kennels and select dogs for further service with their organization. These dogs are then formally transferred to that agency.

Any excess dogs not transferred to another agency will be put up for adoption. The adoption process involves prioritizing the applications that the Marine Corps receives. Wounded warriors and IDD handlers have first priority, active-duty military have second priority, and the general population has third priority.

The Marine Corps is currently only accepting applications from wounded warriors and handlers because there is an extensive waiting list of all the other categories. The project office uses contractor AK9I at Carrsville, Va., to assist the adoption process by housing the dogs and facilitating adoption “join-ups” under government oversight.

Contrary to erroneous reports on the Internet, the Marine Corps does not have an excess number of IED detection dogs requiring homes, and the Corps does not and will not euthanize dogs except for severe medical situations.