Dog Gone!
November 20, 2005 5:28 AM   Subscribe

Precious Pet or Tax-Payers' Property? Severely wounded in Iraq, sergeant wants to take $18,000 of Air Force equipment home on leash.
posted by orthogonality (54 comments total)

 
Seems easily solved to me. She could just *buy* the goddamned dog.

What's that you say? He's not *that* important to her?

Oh, well then...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:13 AM on November 20, 2005


you got it Peter....
posted by pondage at 6:16 AM on November 20, 2005


Not like the troops in Iraq might need a bomb sniffer or anything...

For an emotional appeal headliner this one is about as dumb as they come...
posted by srboisvert at 6:21 AM on November 20, 2005


Well, if an act of Congress is not forthcoming, someone will surely set up a "Bring Rex Home" Web site asking for donations so that she can buy the dog.

On another note, if the dog is so "skilled at detecting explosives," how come he failed to notice the roadside bomb that blew up his comrade? Huh? HUH? Bad dog!
posted by Gator at 6:29 AM on November 20, 2005


"I was shot at an injured whilst flying my helicopter (I call the chopper Steve) in Iraq. I thought the chopper was a write off, but it was only slightly damaged - I know it is important military battlefield equipment, but can I take Steve home with me? Mister, please can I, please can I?" Captian Wuck Fit January 2006
posted by DrDoberman at 6:29 AM on November 20, 2005


Correct me if I missed something, but although the dog has a stated dollar-figure value, it doesn't necessarily follow that she "could just *buy* the goddamned dog."
posted by alumshubby at 6:42 AM on November 20, 2005


I dunno, she almost died over there, and the animal was "hers" for several years of training and deployment. I'd say it wouldn't be unreasonable to let her have the dog, as a token of gratitude for service rendered.

I'm sure the Air Force has plenty of other bomb dogs on order, after all.
posted by killdevil at 6:52 AM on November 20, 2005


"I was shot at an injured whilst flying my helicopter (I call the chopper Steve) in Iraq. I thought the chopper was a write off, but it was only slightly damaged - I know it is important military battlefield equipment, but can I take Steve home with me? Mister, please can I, please can I?"

That's possibly the dumbest goddman fucking attempt and an analogy I've ever seen in my entire life.
posted by Cyrano at 6:54 AM on November 20, 2005


Ugh, what a whiner.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:09 AM on November 20, 2005


Letting her have the dog is one little thing to help her way to a new career. She wasn't a reservist or a short-term enlistee. She was in it for a career. That's gone, now.
posted by Goofyy at 7:14 AM on November 20, 2005


In the police force, K9s don't retire when their handlers leave for one reason or another. Why should this be any different? We're sorry you got injured, but the dog's mission to fight terrorists and avenge 9/11 goes on.

I hope the wounded sergeant can find an unwanted dog at a humane society somewhere in America.
posted by my sock puppet account at 7:16 AM on November 20, 2005


What she doesn't know is that Rex was sick and tired of her pathetic clinging and failed to warn her of the bomb on purpose.
posted by Biblio at 7:19 AM on November 20, 2005


This sort of reminds me of Heinlein's neodogs in Starship Troopers. Except you know, the dogs in real life aren't as cool.
posted by tweak at 7:27 AM on November 20, 2005


That's possibly the dumbest goddamn fucking attempt and an analogy I've ever seen in my entire life.

Thank you Cyrano. Taking a lifesaving military paid for asset from a war zone, out of selfish desire is indeed the dumbest goddamn fucking idea I have ever heard of too.
posted by DrDoberman at 7:43 AM on November 20, 2005


Doesn't seem dogs are all that effective or useful. That's why wars of the future will be waged entirely by robots.
posted by j-urb at 7:48 AM on November 20, 2005


DrDoberman: Thank you Cyrano. Taking a lifesaving military paid for asset from a war zone, out of selfish desire is indeed the dumbest goddamn fucking idea I have ever heard of too.

You know, I was going to agree, but then I remembered the whole goddamned Iraqi war, which is such an overwhelmingly stupid idea that it acts as an eternal trump card, preventing me from ever hearing of anything more stupid.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:56 AM on November 20, 2005


The real moral here is don't fall in love with a piece of government property.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:02 AM on November 20, 2005


Seems easily solved to me. She could just *buy* the goddamned dog.

Um, yeah, assuming that's allowed and assuming she even has that kind of money.

Given that the woman was overseas, putting her life on the line so everyone here can spend their Sundays posting on a web site in safety and security, I think calling her a whiner is a bit... much. I'm pretty sure if I'd just had internal bleeding, collapsed lungs, spine fractures, and broken pelvis because a bomb had just blown up in my face, I'd kind of want to have a dog to curl up to for a while too.

As a few others have pointed out, the dog missed this bomb, so we don't know how reliable the dog is or whether anyone else will be willing to work with it. And handing over the dog is probably the best, and cheapest PTSD therapy the military could provide.
posted by Zinger at 8:05 AM on November 20, 2005


Ugh, this poor girl gave years of service to her country, and got the fuck bombed out of her. $18,000 isn't even that much money, we're dumping like $2 billion down the tubes a month over there.
posted by Paris Hilton at 8:06 AM on November 20, 2005


Looks like there aren't many dog owners in this thread. I'm surprised - that's the last reaction I'd expect out of MetaFolks... compassion thrown out the window for cynicism and outright contempt.

It's one dog and one airman in a unique position - more so than most of the other daily trajedies that happen over there.

Give 'em a break.
posted by matty at 8:14 AM on November 20, 2005


As a few others have pointed out, the dog missed this bomb, so we don't know how reliable the dog is or whether anyone else will be willing to work with it.

The story said the bomb went off under a Humvee. My assumption was that they were riding in it, which is not the kind of situation you would expect a dog to be sniffing for bombs.

Taking a lifesaving military paid for asset from a war zone, out of selfish desire is indeed the dumbest goddamn fucking idea I have ever heard of too.

And as far as "lifesaving military paid for asset" goes, and this is purely anecdotal, but I don't think anyone serving over there would begrudge this soldier bringing home her dog.
posted by Cyrano at 8:15 AM on November 20, 2005


I'm not as concerned about the money aspect as the fact that the animal has years of training. Giving her the dog could cause a less experienced, less trained dog to take its place which would put other soldiers in more danger. It's too bad, but it's not worth the risk.

What can $18,000 buy in armor for a Humvee anyway?
posted by my sock puppet account at 8:17 AM on November 20, 2005


$18,000 is not that much money, but the idea that the military should make special exceptions in established policy for sentimental reasons is stupid. And that lady should know better, no matter how badly she got hurt.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:22 AM on November 20, 2005


I think most of the Big Shots involved in this fracas (the Air Force, certain members of Congress, etc.) agree that giving her the dog would be the kind, nice thing to do. I suspect they're mainly concerned about setting an undesirable precedent. Remember, a hell of a lot of court rulings in this country are based on previous rulings and precedents set by others in the past, so...They probably want to make sure they've covered all possible angles before they just hand over this well-trained and expensive piece of military property. Even though it would be a good thing to do, and would generate positive publicity now, it's conceivable that the precedent could lead to something undesirable down the line. I haven't put enough thought into this to come up with a possible example, but politicians are skilled at coming up with "What if [fill-in-the-blank scenario] comes up?"
posted by Gator at 8:24 AM on November 20, 2005


"...an undesirable precedent."

I agree wholeheartedly. One undesirable president is more than enough.
posted by wsg at 8:38 AM on November 20, 2005


Um, yeah, assuming that's allowed and assuming she even has that kind of money.

Don't they give bank loans to military personnel then?

Or are you just assuming, like I am, that if she had to actually spend the $18 herself, she'd almost certainly choose something more useful, like a car or a deposit on a house?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:06 AM on November 20, 2005


Sorry, that should have been $18k. If she wants an $18 mutt from an animal shelter though and is struggling to afford that, I'd be happy to spring for it myself.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:08 AM on November 20, 2005


Gator: "but politicians are skilled at coming up with "What if [fill-in-the-blank scenario] comes up?"

You have got to be kidding. This is the one thing that they are most definitely terrible at. They may pay someone on their staff to think about stuff like that, but then they promptly ignore them.
posted by Justin Case at 9:08 AM on November 20, 2005


Justin, politicians are the people who oppose gay marriage because of "What about bestiality and NAMBLA?" They actually do have vivid imaginations, when it suits them.
posted by Gator at 9:17 AM on November 20, 2005


Its a nice sentiment but I can full understand the military's point of view (just as I can the soldier's point of view). The dog lover part of me hopes she ends up with the hound.
posted by fenriq at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2005


A dog is of course a living creature and other "assets" are objects. If you can not tell the difference, then I understand why you don't get this.

And no slipping in crap about the War in Iraq being about revenge for the WTC. No one believes that, even the pres when pushed specifically on the matter. Although he loves to imply that.

Surely someone must believe that she is entitled to some reward for: 1) volunteering in a miliatary that very few others want to join, 2)being wounded in the line of her duty, 3) caring for the dog for so long, 4) and the dog's obvious attachment to her.
posted by Red58 at 9:26 AM on November 20, 2005


Looks like there aren't many dog owners in this thread.

Dog owner here. On the side of the military in this case, though they should let her buy it for whatever the depreciated value is. It sucks that she was wounded, but that doesn't mean she gets a very expensive parting gift from the USAF. The dog will almost certainly be just as happy with its next handler.

Realistically, I imagine the informal solution would have been for someone in the dog's unit to give it very bad ratings (or whatever) and say that it's become unfit for use so that it could be soon retired and shipped to her. But that chance is probably lost in the publicity of the case.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:27 AM on November 20, 2005


Surely someone must believe that she is entitled to some reward for: 1) volunteering in a miliatary that very few others want to join, 2)being wounded in the line of her duty, 3) caring for the dog for so long, 4) and the dog's obvious attachment to her.

Yeah. Her reward is ongoing medical treatment for service-related issues, disability payments, and maybe a pension. Same as anyone else who's wounded and kicked out. If she can still serve her 20 in a desk job, she gets medical treatment and half her base pay for life.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:32 AM on November 20, 2005


Don't they give bank loans to military personnel then?

Yes, I'm sure the bank would view a severely injured, about-to-be retired vet looking to buy an $18,000 dog an excellent credit risk.

I was assuming that military personnel generally don't get paid very well, and that she might not have that kind of money to spend. (I'm not American and so don't have any idea what someone at her rank would likely be paid; and of course we know nothing of her perosonal finances generally).

That said, I don't know if she wouldn't try to buy the dog if offered - I didn't see that mentioned in the article.
posted by Zinger at 9:43 AM on November 20, 2005


If we were talking about two members of a military couple assigned together, would the Army let the uninjured one go home too?
posted by Opposite George at 9:49 AM on November 20, 2005


er, Air Force
posted by Opposite George at 9:54 AM on November 20, 2005


I like ROU_X's idea. Why not just wait until the dog is done with its service, *then* give it to her? I'm pretty sure they don't use these animals once their age starts slowing them down.
posted by beth at 10:00 AM on November 20, 2005


If we were talking about two members of a military couple assigned together, would the Army let the uninjured one go home too?

This is weak. I'm not sure what you're trying to prove with this analogy, but it occurs to me that there might be a slight legal difference between getting married and liking a dog.

Of course with these damn liberals eroding the sanctity of marriage blah blah slippery slope, I'm sure the difference is getting smaller every day. Or something.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:02 AM on November 20, 2005


She should just get another dog if she likes dogs so much.
posted by I Foody at 10:13 AM on November 20, 2005


This is weak.

nebulawindphone, I'm not sure what you're trying to prove with your post.

It's a serious question that struck me while considering the situation -- I don't know the answer. I was hoping somebody with some experience in these matters would know. I would hope though, that if they end up letting the woman take home a dog they'd let a spouse go home to tend to their injured SO. Which, if I'm reading your snark correctly means we're on the same side.
posted by Opposite George at 10:37 AM on November 20, 2005


> Another problem often occurs when the K-9 handler is promoted or reassigned. At that point, he may have become so attached to the dog that he is willing to purchase the dog from the police department in order to continue the relationship. Some agencies allow such a transaction; others do not. But even if the transaction is allowed, the cost of the trained dog may be exorbitant and may put undue financial pressure on the officer. If he leaves without the dog, he may feel as though he is abandoning a friend.

I think I would attribute this story to the stress of the soldier's wounding. Under normal circumstances, she might see that it was illogical or inappropriate. It seems like reassignment has been a policy at least since Vietnam.
posted by dhartung at 11:21 AM on November 20, 2005


posted by nebulawindphone The real moral here is don't fall in love with a piece of government property.

Tell that to the husbands and wives of servicepeople.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:27 AM on November 20, 2005


Sorry for the derail, but:

sock puppet account said: "We're sorry you got injured, but the dog's mission to fight terrorists and avenge 9/11 goes on."

Uh, you do realze that the Iraq war has nothing to do with 9/11 at all? Saddam wasn't behind 9/11. None of the hijackers were Iraqis, as far as I know. (almost all Saudi). There's no link whatsoever between Iraq and 9/11, except that Bush used it as (false) justification for the invasion.

It was almost precisely like being bombed at Pearl Harbor and invading Mexico in retaliation.

As far as fighting terrorists goes... it's worth pointing out that THERE WERE NO TERRORISTS in Iraq before we invaded. There are now. How are we, um, fighting them again, exactly?

</derail>

As far as the dog itself goes, I'm kind of conflicted about it. It's a military asset, not a pet. But letting her have the dog may help her recover. We pay our soldiers shit and expect them to die for us. It strikes me that a little compassion after such a terrible injury, sustained while fighting on our behalf, might not be such a bad idea.

I guess a lot depends on what the dog supply is like... if they have tons and won't really miss one, let him go. If he's really a needed asset, them keep him until he isn't... and perhaps give him to the lady when he 'retires'.
posted by Malor at 11:32 AM on November 20, 2005


Wow Malor, thanks for clearing that up.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:13 PM on November 20, 2005


MWDs are worth about $18K out of training. Consequently, Rex is very valuable to both the unit and the Air Force.

So let's see , we can't sell a property of USAF to a soldier only because the soldier "would like to" ..so we must find some
way around the problem, possibily not involving some Republican/Democratic rep crying a river for the heroic soldiers they sent to risk death ; spare your tears for when you go to Iraq asshole.

Some value the dog at $18K as it's the cost of his tranining..therefore a replacement dog would cost $18k, but what's the value of old trained doggie ? Some people who know other people working with animals know that there is a kind of a bond, a trust between the animal and the trainer

They had trained together for three years in the military and were deployed overseas side by side

So you see that actually this kind of special-unit is composed by two units : the Sgt and the dog, working togheter. It's clear
that the dog maybe able to sniff the explosives, but not being with his original trainer may stress the animal, maybe leading
him to underperform or needing more retraining time with a new human companion. Also the dog is 5 year-less away from retirement
so it can't be worth as much as a new replacement dog ; conversely, his experience may be valuable, but one wonders how and if
a dog skills at recognizing explosives are constantly increasing or if they top out at a certain time.

Whatever, there's little doubt that dog is worth less then its original training costs and I'm confident the value of the dog
is probably close to zero without his original trainer, so it can be dismissed as unit "spent" on the battlefield, whose maintenance cost would be higher then replacement cost.

So let's give the Sgt her dog, considering the dog is no longer as-useful without her trainer ; that would satisfy those who
oppose emotive sale and those who'd like to make a special exception ONLY to make propaganda out of the nice story.
posted by elpapacito at 12:24 PM on November 20, 2005


I would like to add some sensible reply to this dialog, but I can't get passed the feeling that the dog is a slave belonging to the army. It is creeping me out that the army is using dogs (or dolphins or bats or whatever) to fight the war. I'm pretty sure that this dog wasn't asked if it wanted to go to war and sniff bombs. Maybe the dog thinks war is bad and just wants to be with the handler. I'm not some crazy PETA person, but I am really uncomfortable with this whole situation.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:02 PM on November 20, 2005


Those armed dolphins are still out there.
posted by xod at 1:12 PM on November 20, 2005


Yeah, they've got frickin' laser beams on their heads.
posted by sharpener at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2005


So let's give the Sgt her dog, considering the dog is no longer as-useful without her trainer

ISTR from documentaries about military dogs that handler changes aren't unusual. People opt out of the service all the time.

I still think a smarter dog handler would have worked with her old unit behind-the-scenes to get the dog retired so it could be sent to her. If her unit wants to keep the dog, I'd take that as a clue that it's for-real needed in the field.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2005


Malor,
It was a throwaway, tounge-in-cheek line. The rest of my comment was serious.
/derail over

Gravy, do you feel the same way about K9 units at police departments?
posted by my sock puppet account at 2:20 PM on November 20, 2005


More about service dogs in war:
An estimated 500 dogs died in combat in Vietnam. Others succumbed to illness, parasites or the tropical heat. Barely 200 were brought home to the
United States.
The thousands of others _ no one kept precise count _ were deemed surplus "equipment" by the Pentagon at the end of the war. These dogs were either euthanized by the U.S. military, turned over to the South Vietnamese army or simply abandoned as America hustled to pull out of the unpopular conflict.

posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:24 PM on November 20, 2005


ROU: well then another accomodation could be found.

Assuming the dog has to serve for a couple more years and that he can be placed in a less risky situation (for instance sniffing non presumedly live bombs) one could promise the Sgt his dog has better chance to come back (as opposed to exploding) and then try to expedite the "dismissal of unit".

Or maybe sending some other dog, not from Army, "borrowing" from other forces, assuming there's some spare dog not being used ; one could reassing the dog to his trainer (relocation of unit isn't dismissal of unit) and the soldiers wouldn't suffer any loss of sniffing capabilities.

Or borrow a canine unit from a friend country. That still wouldn't force making an exception for her, rather working around the problem.
posted by elpapacito at 4:43 PM on November 20, 2005


It's not her dog - it's the military's dog. She has no right to claim him. It's sad and tragic and all that, but I don't see why she should get a "parting prize" just because she was severely wounded.
posted by agregoli at 8:15 AM on November 21, 2005


Sad story. But I don't see why this person should get a special gift because she was wounded. There are plenty of wounded soldiers that come home and they don't all get to pick something they want to take home with them. I understand that it would feel terrible to be in her position, but she had to know it was a possibility.
posted by raedyn at 10:24 AM on November 21, 2005


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