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Off the leash: 8th SFS MWDs begin disposition

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jovan Banks
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

There comes a time in life when a military member must take off the uniform, that is no different for military working dogs. Taking off their protective vest and coveted “DO NOT PET” collar and retiring from the kennels signifies the end of their tenure as an active duty service member. 

Rex, Bonus, Heino and Quinto, 8th Security Forces Squadron MWDs, recently entered into the process of disposition which will effectively retire them from service.

The decision to initiate disposition procedures is up to the MWD’s medical team, who conduct thorough inspections of the animals' health regularly to determine their continued ability to serve.

“Our dogs are well taken care of,” said U.S. Army Specialist Brianna Johnson, 106th Medical Battalion veterinary technician. “Every month we do a check-up on each of Kunsan’s MWDs to keep track of things that may be a concern to the dog’s overall health status.”  

Service dogs do not have a set number of years before they can be dispositioned. As long as they are in good health, they can be of service to their squadron as essential components in the overall Kunsan Air Base defense plan.

MWDs conduct a variety of duties for the Airmen of the 8th SFS. The dogs can specialize in tracking, search and rescue, explosive detection and attack. These tasks can take a toll on the dogs’ health over time and lead to injuries.

The leading cause for a MWD’s health category to be raised to category three, which declares a service dog no longer fit to serve, are leg injuries. MWD Bonus, who recently underwent surgery from an injury and is now up for disposition, has been a service dog at Kunsan AB for 10 years. 

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ricardo Roque, 8th SFS MWD trainer, was assigned as his handler while serving at Kunsan and has developed a unique bond with Bonus during his short tour assignment.

“It is hard not to get attached,” said Roque. “For the majority of the time that you are here, you spend it with the dog so it is really hard not to.” 

MWDs are tested through multiple scenarios during the disposition process to determine their response in various social situations to see if the dog could be placed in an adoptive home once retired.  

“It is a bittersweet moment for sure,” said Roque. “But knowing that previous handlers will be adopting the dogs, reassures me that they will be going to good homes.”