ST. LOUIS — Five retired military dogs that spent years working in war zones are putting their noses to new uses by helping police in the U.S. combat methamphetamine and other drugs, thanks in part to financial support from Westport Pharmaceuticals.
The animals are being deployed to police departments in Indiana, Texas, Tennessee, Nebraska and Georgia as part of a venture that organizers say gives police a resource they couldn’t otherwise afford and provides the dogs a new mission.
“If you were to look at these dogs and watch them when they come back, they’re ready to work,” said Mike Thomas, a Harris County, Texas, sheriff’s officer and board member of the Houston-based organization K9s4Cops, which is using a $25,000 grant from Westport, based here.
The U.S. military has used dogs since the Revolutionary War, enlisting them to guard facilities, detect drugs and explosives, and search for people or items. In the past, many were euthanized or left behind once their deployments ended.
But that has changed, mostly due to a 2000 law signed by President Clinton that requires the Department of Defense to report annually the number of military working dogs that are adopted, transferred to law enforcement or euthanized. Legislation in recent years has aimed to allow retired dogs to be transferred to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio or another location if no suitable adoption is available at the facility where a dog is located.,