Kabul’s Abandoned Service Dogs May Face Euthanasia

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File photo taken on Aug. 16, 2021 shows people gathering at the Kabul airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. The United States should withdraw all troops and contractors before Aug. 31 deadline from Afghanistan and no extension for the ongoing evacuation process would be possible, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday.
File photo taken on Aug. 16, 2021 shows people gathering at the Kabul airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. The United States should withdraw all troops and contractors before Aug. 31 deadline from Afghanistan and no extension for the ongoing evacuation process would be possible, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday. "There will be no extension for the ongoing evacuation," Mujahid told reporters at a press conference. "We want them to evacuate their citizens, they have planes and the Kabul airport control is with them, the U.S. should withdraw all its troops, people or contractors before the deadline," he said. (Xinhua)

Military service dogs that may have been left behind by foreign forces fleeing Kabul will be too hard to handle and could ultimately be put down, police dog experts told Sputnik.

Photos of dogs being held in cages and crates at Kabul airport went viral days before the United States completed its withdrawal, prompting an outcry among American politicians and dog lovers, who accused President Joe Biden of abandoning those who served the nation. The Pentagon denied that the animals pictured had ever been in its care. Retired Air Force Maj. Sam Peters, a Nevada congressional candidate and a former military dog-handler, told Fox News on Tuesday that the claim was not “passing the smell test.”

Peter Van Keirsbilk, a dog trainer with a career as a handler in the Belgian federal police force’s canine department, told Sputnik that it would be a shame if contract working dogs had indeed been abandoned in Kabul, since many people would rather have them given a lethal injection than retrained or put up for adoption.

“The relation between the military or police working dog and its handler is that of a real close team. They live together 24 hours a day and have their personal dialogue. It is difficult to change the team and give the dog to another handler, for example. It needs more training to create the confidence needed,” he said.

There are many different specialties for service dogs. They can be trained in detecting explosives or finding weapon caches, sniffing out drugs, finding humans and dead bodies, crowd control or used for attack. Dogs can also see danger that a human presents to the owner by sensing nervousness and analyzing body language.

It takes about four months to train a service dog in a particular role, according to Sandra de Bekker, head of the Belgian federal police’s canine department. A clever canine with a good nose can be trained in two different tasks. Service dogs are retired at eight-nine years of age. De Bekker said dogs over seven years are considered impossible to retrain into another job.

The experts agreed that “reusing” the dogs would be impossible without knowing their specialty or even their name. The best that can happen is them being adopted as a family dog or flown to safety and retired with a veteran, unless it is an attack dog, which can be dangerous to a third person.

“Dogs that are abandoned in cages for hours and days can become really nervous and dangerous because of their own abandonment and anguish… If they are not retired, these military or police dogs that could have been abandoned have no future and would probably be eliminated,” de Bekker told Sputnik.

Gaetan Sgualdino, the director of Animal Protection Society, a large Belgian shelter, admitted to Sputnik that finding a dog a new home was problematic even for “advanced societies.” He estimated that 16,000 dogs are abandoned in Belgium every year, and a small number of them have to be euthanized. He said guard dogs, such as Belgian Malinois and American Staffordshire terriers, were particularly overrepresented.

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