U.S. military must stop medical animal tests!  »

In its medical training courses, the United States military uses (read: kills) over 7,500 animals every year. This is unnecessary and pretty gross. Of course, the military industrial complex is terrifying (hi, FISA extension!), the official and covert wars conducted in our name are horrific (hey Afghanistan! what’s up, CIA drones?), and the way we treat our veterans is shameful (sorry, dogs; at least there’s IAVA?). But at least we won’t be paying for people to torture pigs and goats, right? Per PCRM:

The massive National Defense Authorization Act, approved last month by the Senate and House of Representatives, contains a provision that calls on the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress by March 1, 2013, on a strategy, including a detailed timeline, for replacing the use of animals with human-based methods. Last night, the president signed the bill into law.

So they’re not going to immediately stop so much as make a plan for stopping, eventually.  Still, better than letting it go on indefinitely, funded by our tax dollars. Isn’t it nice when the government helps ease the burden of complex, tacit social hypocrisy involved in trying live a cruelty-free life?

[Photo by thechoserebel via Flickr]


Thanks, “This American Life”: Break your heart with stories of WWII soldier dogs  »

This American Life
's most recent show is called “Animal Sacrifice,” and its first act features Susan Orlean reporting on World War II soldier dogs, expanded from her book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. The U.S. military had a program where they recruited citizens’ pet dogs to serve. Like, one day your dog is performing Houdini-style escapes from every confinement you try to impose on her; the next, she’s flushing enemy soldiers out of caves in the Solomon Islands.

Here’s a training video, starring the cutest little terrier you ever saw.

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on]

In light of the army’s latest findings on canine PTSD, this story is especially heartbreaking. Many of the dogs who weren’t killed in action had such bad PTSD they couldn’t be returned to their civilian families after the war, and so were euthanized. The use of dogs in service continues today, but at least now there are options beyond killing a dog we forced to undergo personality-altering trauma. Still, if we’re going to have robots in war, can we make some to replace the canines? It’s appalling, the sacrifices we ask of dogs, things we have no right to demand of them.

[photo from the national archives via TAL]


War is unbearable: Canine PTSD is real  »

The LA Times has a detailed, depressing article about the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in dogs deployed in combat patrols. What do you know: “Dogs experience combat just like humans,” and they experience PTSD like people, too.

The article focuses on a Belgian Malinois named Cora, who returned two years ago from several tours of duty in Iraq, suffering serious behavioral problems. She was diagnosed with canine PTSD, and is undergoing rehab in Yuma, Ariz.

Calling Cora’s condition canine PTSD drives home a point that [Chief of behavioral medicine and military working-dog studies at Lackland Air Force Base Walter] Burghardt feels is key: “This is something that does not get better without intervention.”

Two factors slowed down the decision to label canine PTSD. For one, Burghardt and others did not want to suggest disrespect for the military personnel who have been diagnosed with the disorder.

Second is the problem faced by any veterinarian. “You can’t ask them questions,” Burghardt said.

The Times also has a photo gallery of military dogs you might want to check out. We understand much more about the dogs we use in war, and the terrible consequences they can suffer alongside the soldiers who work with them. War is unbearable for every being involved in it, whether deliberately or involuntarily, and we need to treat all our veterans with respect and care.

[Photos, from top: U.S. Army, Beverly & Pack, both via Flickr]



We have come across a very important corner of the internet: Australian military personel with animals.

Australian War Memorial Flickr

Why can’t we all be friends with wallabies? Or just all go live in that picture. Strapping dudes with tiny marsupials, YES PLEASE.


Contrary to popular belief, a parachuting dog is not adorable!  »

Osama bin Laden’s dead, ding dong, la la la, everything is suddenly peaceful forever and ever. Or is it? Sadly, U.S. Navy Seals didn’t think they could accomplish this mission without "an elite dog team that can parachute or rappel into action at a moment’s notice."

Wait, what? Dogs are smart, affectionate, and totally rad, and they hold all kinds of awesome jobs that are safe and still help humanity at large: guide dogs for the blind, seizure-alert dogs, even therapy dogs to visit the sick, elderly, and learning disabled! But just because a dog likes to hang out with people, chase a ball, and sniff the butts of other dogs doesn’t mean he or she wants to strap on a canine tactical assault vest and jump out of a plane to fight “turrists.”

Unlike helper dogs, these dogs are in huge danger all the time (bullets, bombs, shrapnel, the natural conclusions of a failed parachute) and don’t know what they’ve involuntarily signed up for! With $553 billion in spending projected this year for the Department of Defense, surely they could come up with alternative anti-bomb and enemy-seeking technology. Oh wait, they have? So this is just for fun, apparently.

My first thought upon reading this article was, “Parachuting dogs? How adorable!” But really, making them suffer from nightmares and stress for years after their tours of duty is exploitation. It’s a DOG DRAFT, except they can’t picket the White House, chant “hell no, we won’t go,” or burn their draft cards! Hey, military, do something useful with our tax dollars for a change.

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