The U.S. military has sent countless dogs to serve alongside soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere since Sept. 11. They have become a valuable member of the troops working in some of the toughest battlefields in the world. With increases in technology, including constructing mannequin dogs, the Pentagon is ensuring many more of them will make it home.
At any given time, there are about 1,600 Military War Dogs (MWDs) are either in the field or helping recuperating veterans. That’s approximately one dog for every three U.S. soldiers currently in Afghanistan.
These animals are, however, an increasingly precious resource. With terrorists targeting public transportation and tourist sites all over the world, global demand for bomb-sniffing dogs has surged. Canines with finely trained noses now fetch $25,000 and up on the open market, where border patrol units, the State Department, and private security firms go for canine talent. Even the war on bedbugs scoops up some of the best noses in the business. And that’s just U.S. demand.
So, out of necessity, the Department of Defense is buying up lifelike canine mannequins to better train medics that care for furry soldiers when they fall. Since these dog dolls hit the market in January, the Pentagon has purchased about 80 of them from TraumaFX, an Atlanta-based unit of defense contractor KForce Government Solutions Inc. The company, which employs Hollywood movie designers, is bidding on an additional six proposals at the moment.
While the demand for war dogs is increasing both in the war theatre as well as at home, the pipeline for getting trained dogs in the field is very limited. A well-trained dog cast somewhere around $42,000 before it is ready to get out in the field and the training lasts about four months.
That’s why buying the dog dummies are valuable assets for veterinary services that are assigned to care for them when they are hurt in the line of duty.
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Photo courtesy DOD