Military Clarifies Media Story about Starving Dogs in Iraq, Does Not Require Assistance with Food Su

A consumer media story that ran in several outlets on Jan. 5 has prompted widespread concern about the health of U.S. dogs used in Iraq. But the story, prompted by an email from a military police officer in Iraq, was not accurate, according to Paul Schmidt, DVM, MpH, DACVPM. “There are no problems in the supply of food provided to U.S. military working dogs,” he said. “There are no U.S. working dogs that lack adequate food supply. It is a regular item in the military supply system.”

The confusion may have stemmed from the fact that the dogs referenced in the email are Iraqi military police dogs, not U.S. dogs, said Schmidt.

“All of our veterinarians who have seen [the dogs] consider them to be in good shape,” said Deanna Brown, LTC, VC. “They don’t have the ideal MWD diet, but it is good for Iraqi standards [and] I do not think we can expect Iraq to suddenly be up to U.S. standards on care of animals overnight. Dogs are not considered the same [way] in this culture as they are in ours.”

As a result of the article, PetSmart and PetCo have offered to send food to the dogs in Iraq, and the Las Vegas Humane Society is accepting donations, but military personnel caution that a sudden, and short-lived change in the dogs’ diets could be dangerous to their health. “Feeding of meat scraps is the norm here…it may not be ideal, but is not abuse or neglect. If we ship all of this dog food over to them, it will simply provide a diet that they are unaccustomed to for a short period of time.” Food storage would also be a logistical problem, Brown added.