A group of military working dogs were recently flown home to the United States after they finished their service as explosive detecting K9s in Afghanistan. The Armed Forces contracted AMK9, one of the world’s leading working K9 trainers, to transport a total of 92 retiring dogs from the Middle East to the United States.
The dogs were not Armed Forces military working dogs, but were contracted through AMK9. When they had finished their service, AMK9 made sure that none of them were left behind and that they all received the best care during their long journey home — not an easy task when moving nearly 100 animals on long flights through multiple countries!
Meticulous planning went into the operation to fly the dogs home, including arranging veterinarians along each stage of the trip to check on the dogs and make sure they were okay.
“A lot of them are coming back to be adopted, to go to homes where they’ll spend the rest of their days enjoying life,” said Guy Owens, VP of Operations at AMK9. “And that’s a good thing.
Once the dogs arrived, safe and sound, in New York they still had one last leg of the journey to get to the AMK9 compound in Alabama. They were cared for along the way, and when they reached their final destination the crew was ready to welcome them and get them settled.
Of the 92 dogs flown home after serving with troops in Afghanistan, nearly half of them were ready to retire and be adopted out to loving owners and families. The other half — still young and healthy — were able to continue working here in the U.S. for law enforcement and other capacities.
“It still gives me great pleasure being able to come to work and say I work with a canine company that does great things keeping people safe,” says Jon Wertjes, President of AMK9, “but also that we do great things for those dogs when they’re done working for us.”
Check out the start of their journey!
To help get the retired dogs into loving homes, AMK9 turned to Sara Hare, owner of Piper’s Rescue and Piper’s Playhouse.
“It feels really good to see the slow process of them transforming from working dog to family pet,” Sara Hare said,” and from them realizing that they don’t have to go, go, go every day. They don’t have to work and save people’s lives. They can just be loving and they can just be spoiled and have these people love on them for the rest of their lives.”
The dogs’ medical and service records help guide the adoption process, finding the right homes for each of the dogs and determining which dogs get along with children, other animals, etc.
One of the 92 dogs to be flown home from Afghanistan, Otos, was adopted by a sheriff’s deputy at the Chambers County Police Department. He now lives with the deputy and his family, along with working as a narcotics sniffing dog for the police department.
Sgt. Terry Daniel, who is also an Army veteran, said that shared experience between himself and Otos helps create a close bond whether they working or playing together.
“With soldiers you can walk up to them, you can shake their hand, you can show them that you appreciate them, you can give them a hug — there’s all sorts of emotion. And with dogs you don’t get to do that,” said Tisha Mullen, AMK9’s Logistics and Procurement Manager. “We’re willing to bring them home and showing them appreciation by giving them good homes.”
Watch this video update on how the dogs are doing now!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.