The “How To’s” of
 MWD Adoption

On Jan 4, 2008, Mr & Mrs Kandoll adopted 10 year-old MWD Benny B163 from Langley AFB. The following is their tips on navigating thru the military red tape.

1. Download the MWD Adoption Application (PDF format).

Read all the requirements carefully to make certain you can comply with them. Talk to all the members of your family who will be involved in the retired MWD’s life to be sure they are all supportive of the adoption idea. Fill out the application entirely and HOLD ON TO IT until you have located the MWD you wish to adopt. When appropriate, send the application to THAT location!! Only fax the paperwork to Lackland AFB if you are adopting a MWD from THERE. The MWD Facility from which you adopt your retiring MWD must generate the Adoption Packet which they will ultimately forward to Lackland AFB. Save time, effort, and paper!

2. CALL the Military Working Dog Kennels YOURSELF!

The folks at Lackland AFB are terrific, caring people. They are also extremely BUSY!! So, while they may graciously take the time to give you some referrals of MWDs in your geographical area, those referrals are not always up-to-date. I was given five referrals. After calling the various MWD Facilities, three dogs were adopted by their former handlers (always a WONDERFUL thing!!!), one failed the *Adoption Suitability Test and one had “died” in the interim. (*This is a test required by the DoD given and videotaped by the handlers to determine if the animal is suitable for civilian adoption)

3. BE DILIGENT when calling to see about the availability of retiring MWDs!!

In my personal MWD adoption experience, my retiring MWD was NOT listed in the Lackland database even though he had been declared “excess” one month before I even began my search for a MWD to adopt. The “Why?” is not important. Fortunately, for me and for my MWD Benny B163, I continued to call MWD Facilities in my geographic region. I made approximately 20 calls before I discovered Benny was available. I began my effort to locate a retiring MWD in need of adoption at the end of November 2007. Benny had been declared “excess” in October 2007. He was scheduled for euthanasia and necropsy in December 2007 or January 2008. Don’t get discouraged…a noble MWD’s future happiness may depend on YOU!!!

Use the following “BUZZ WORDS” when Making Inquiries: 

Getting straight to the point about your reason for calling is the best way when contacting the MWD Facilities. Remember these military members are BUSY! They have training exercises to conduct, dogs to care for, certifications to keep up with, and on and on it goes ad infinitum! They are busy, but they always take the time to try to get a retiring MWD a good FOREVER home! Keep in mind you are talking to warriors, who with their MWD partners, have put it all on the line countless times to protect their fellow soldiers and to protect and defend all of us in America. Be courteous and don’t forget to take a minute to say a special “Thank you for your service”!!!

Here’s a sample of what you might say to find out the info you want to know:  Hello, my name is___. I am calling to see if you have any dogs which have been declared *“excess” and are due to retire that might be suitable for CIVILIAN adoption? *(A MWD has to first be declared EXCESS and then retirement plans are quickly set into motion.)

If the answer is “No”… 
ASK them to take your name and number and call you if something should develop at their MWD Facility. Things happen…dogs can develop an unforeseen military career-ending injury of the type that would only be a minimal problem to them in civilian retired life.

If the answer is “Yes”…ASK IF 

A) …the dog has already been declared excess. 
B) …the Adoption Suitability Test has been videotaped and sent to Lackland.
C) …any handler is in line to adopt the dog.
(Handlers get first choice, Law enforcement is second and Civilians are third.) 
D) …you can talk to someone who can tell you about the dog. 
These handlers are super perceptive about the dogs in their charge. They are only too happy to answer all your questions because they want a good match between you and your MWD. BE HONEST about what you want! Keep in mind, however, that your dream MWD might be in a different package than you had previously conceived! I LOVE German Shepherds and definitely wanted one…but by the time I found Benny, I was so THRILLED that I could give a good home to a good dog, I didn’t even ASK what BREED he was!!! From the Kennel Master’s description, he sounded EXACTLY like what I was looking for! I had already agreed to set the paperwork in motion, when I asked in what breed Benny’s GREAT HEART was packaged. Imagine my utter DELIGHT when I received an email picture of a truly gorgeous German Shepherd! Keep an OPEN MIND! MWD blessings come in all shapes, colors and sizes!
E) …you can start the paperwork to begin the adoption process NOW.

The handlers have many things on their plate, however, they do want to complete the process as expediently as possible. KEEP CALLING TO POLITELY REMIND THEM THAT YOU ARE STILL INTERESTED AND WAITING. Persistent patience pays off…and politeness wins the day!

I’ve Begun the Adoption…NOW what?

A. Make sure you have all your paperwork complete and submitted to the MWD Facility with which you are working. Have your phone references on “Stand-By”, letting them know in advance that they might be called when you go there to pick up your MWD.

B. Ask if the dog has been already neutered/spayed. If not, ask when the MWD will be scheduled for the procedure and if the dog’s “Outprocessing” can take place at the same time. 

C. Ask if they can secure a rabies tag reflecting the dog’s last date of vaccination. The MWD doesn’t have to wear a tag, but your new civilian retired MWD must comply with all of the rules of your state and community. You really shouldn’t take “No” for an answer on this one…even if you have to volunteer to do the “footwork” to procure the tag.

D. Find out what the dog is eating and how much… Usually, MWDs are fed Hill’s Science Diet Active twice a day. A good food that makes for easy transition with little or no digestive upset is Hill’s Science Diet Mature 7+ Years. People food is especially not a good idea, since these dogs have had a structured diet for their working years. Pick lower fat doggie treats that contain the “little extras” that will benefit your retired MWD…such as those containing Omega Fatty Acids and Glucosamine Chondroitin. Anything that promotes dental health is good, too. Rawhides are NOT a good choice as they can lead to intestinal blockage…so NOT worth the risk. The more diligent your care, the longer your MWD will be with you and the better his health and comfort.

E. Find out what supplements your MWD is on… Many MWDs take joint supplements because of all the athletic work they do. Before adopting your MWD, you should be prepared to maintain him in his accustomed manner. If he takes Glycoflex III, be prepared to have it on hand. In other words, don’t scrimp on food or diet. They are extremely important components in the longevity and comfort level of your MWD.

F. Find out when your MWD’s last teeth cleaning was, and also when he was last administered HeartGard Plus and Frontline Plus. Generally, the MWD Facility will send you home with a one month’s supply of these two products, but after that, it’s up to you. While you are getting the rabies tag, get the vet to write you a prescription for the Heartgard (required for purchase) In doing so, you will not have to immediately take your MWD to your vet at home. Most vets will not write a prescription without doing the heartworm check. If you still have six months left before your dog needs his heartworm blood test, you will be saving time and money. I have found an UNBELIEVABLY cost effective source for the medicines is . Wherever you get your supplies, make sure you are ready for your MWD’s homecoming. 

G. Don’t forget to have two forms of I.D. for the Legal Office when you sign the legal paperwork to transfer liability and ownership. If you are NOT military or have Base/Post access, find out who will meet you at the Gate to escort you where you need to go.

H. Bring your leash and collar and have a couple of “big dog” toys on hand. You might consider having a couple of comfy dog beds waiting at home. They are a great alternative if you prefer not having the dog on furniture. Benny has three in the house and one in my SUV. He immediately goes to them whenever we go into a room. MWDs are SMART and APPRECIATIVE!

I. Make certain you receive a copy of your MWD’s medical records and verify that you have his microchip number. MWDs have a tattoo in their left ear as well as a microchip. Make sure that you can find the microchip number in the medical record. As soon as feasible, call the microchip company and have the microchip number transferred over to your ownership. The company the DoD usually uses is the Avid Microchip Company. The toll free number is 1-800-336-2843. The cost to transfer information is around $18.50.

J. Make sure you ASK what COMMANDS the dog knows…and LEARN them! Learn how to speak your dog’s language! Just because the MWD is retired, does not mean that he can forget his basic obedience. He will be happier (and you will, TOO!) if you insist on obedience firmly and lovingly! Dogs…even the FABULOUS MWDs…will try to take advantage of your inconsistencies or uncertainties . BE CONSISTENT and FIRM, but LOVING. Just because MWDs have a $75,000 education does NOT mean that they don’t need to look to you for guidance and direction! 

YOU are now their LAST HANDLER!!!


ENJOY the WONDERFUL Retired MWD who will share your life! 




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