• Ed Flattau

A Dog's Life

Donald Trump lauded a military working dog wounded in the successful raid to take out the leader of ISIS. Yet in the next breath, the president disparaged canines with a sweeping generalization. He contemptuously described Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS chieftain, as “dying like a dog” when cornered by American soldiers.

It turns out that Trump uses unflattering allusions to dogs as a mainstay in his frequent tirades against perceived enemies.

Our canine friends deserve better than being the objects of pejorative imagery, and no more so than in the case of military working dogs. These bomb-sniffing animals operate in high-risk environments where many lives, including their own, are on the line.

Unfortunately, these gifted canines are not immune from abuse. Within the confines of a State Department program providing military dogs to developing countries for security purposes, some of the animals have been badly mistreated. A major culprit has been the recipient nation of Jordan. American veterinarians on an inspection tour of Jordanian pet facilities found some diseased military dogs in dilapidated kennels, emaciated animals mired in their own feces, and cases of heat exhaustion.

It should thus come as no surprise that some dogs upon graduation from anti-terrorist training on our shores were 90 percent proficient in their performance but tended to function at 50 percent when transferred to Jordan.

That said, Americans have not always been ideal handlers either. Up until the year 2000, the policy was for our military working dogs to be euthanized after their designated nine-year term of service. Now at least, the law requires we care for these dogs in their retirement years, either through adoption or humane kennel arrangements. That means that dogs that we shipped to Jordan and the other eight Third World nations currently in the program (viz., Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Oman, Bahrain) stand to be reclaimed if we discover they have been abused.

Around the world, general treatment of dogs and other domesticated members of the animal kingdom is trending in the humane direction. It is part of a growing acceptance that cruelty towards animals, in addition to ethical reservations, is a reflection of a human character flaw. Even in countries where cultural sanctions of indifference and predation have long existed, the traditions are fading in the face of a growing international animal welfare movement. In South Korea, for example, the ancient practice of dining on dogs is losing favor.

As for Trump, he should heed the sage advice that if you need a friend in the nation’s capital, get a dog. President Trump is eminently qualified for such an acquisition on both counts.


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