How To Adopt A Former Police, Military or Service Dog?

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 01/06/21 •  11 min read
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Did you know it’s possible to adopt retired or “failed” service dogs? Yes, in fact it’s possible to adopt dogs that were formerly in the military, worked with the police or as a service dog trained for other jobs.

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If you want to adopt one of these amazing dogs, you need to make sure you have enough free time for when the pup comes. If you are a student in college, it might be challenging to deal with the academic load and dog at the same time. But you can remedy the situation by hiring a reliable paper writing service and letting a professional essay writer take care of your assignments. You can be sure your grades will remain high, all homework deadlines will be met, and you will have enough free time to help your dog adapt.

Robby’s Law

There was once a time when service dogs (military, etc.) were either left behind when they were too old or unhealthy to work. And up until about the year 2000, many service dogs were euthanized. These dogs were not seen as the precious living beings they are, but as surplus equipment. Some dogs were able to be placed with their handlers, but many times handlers weren’t able to take the dogs for one reason or another. However, that all changed in November 2000, when then President Bill Clinton signed a law that required all service dogs, if they were suitable for adoption, to be placed in loving homes. If you’re interested in adopting one of these beautiful dogs for you and your family, there are a few things to consider first.

Typical Breeds Used as Working Military and Police Dogs

When it comes to working service dogs, you’ll find that these breeds are the most common:

Service dogs can be male or female, and usually start training at a young age. These dogs will have been spayed or neutered, too, so that’s already taken care of. They’ll also have had all their vaccinations!

Why are Former Working Dogs Up for Adoption? 

There are various reasons that working dogs are put up for adoption. One of the main reasons is due to age. Many service dogs work up until they’re about 7 to 8, or 10-12 years old, these pups have worked hard and are ready to retire when they reach this golden age. Other dogs may have “failed” their training, whether for police, military or other types of service. By failing, we mean that these dogs generally don’t have the personality that’s needed for the type of work they were in training to perform. These precious pups are also called “career change” dogs.

While these dogs are labeled as “failed,” they’re anything but failures! In fact, to even be accepted into training takes intelligence, agility, etc. These pups were simply too “nice” or too scared to do the work, that’s all. They just didn’t have what it takes in order to pass their training. One more note—these pups are generally younger dogs that didn’t meet the requirements for their training. With a failed service dog adoption, you can rest assured your pup will be a wonderful part of your family. Then there are other dogs that are retired because of health issues. Maybe they were injured in the line of duty and aren’t healthy enough to go back to work. However, they’re healthy enough to live long lives with the right family.

The dogs who made it through training and have seen active service may have been trained to:

So, some of these dogs will have seen service, while others simply didn’t make it through the training process.

Do Service Dogs Make Safe Pets?

With the types of service the dogs have seen, many will have some issues. Just like their human handlers, these dogs can suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other issues. Dogs with PTSD receive specialized retraining to treat the disorder. Many of them can go on to families that can provide the love and patience these dogs need. Service dogs can also suffer from anxiety and depression. They may also show signs of aggression, separation anxiety, etc. These dogs also go through retraining programs and/or re-socialization to prepare them for retirement with a loving family.

Some of these dogs will also have other issues; they may not be housebroken, they may have allergies or other health issues, etc. However, they will have had all their vaccinations and they will have been spayed or neutered. In addition, before they’re ready to be adopted, former service dogs go through a behavioral evaluation and an adoption test to make sure they’re ready for life with a family, including being around young children and other pets. So, if you’re interested in adopting a former service dog, you can rest assured they’ve been properly trained and evaluated to make certain they’ll make great companions for you and your family.

Adopt a Military Dog That Failed

If you’re interested in adopting a military dog that failed his training, there are several organizations that can help, including:

The adoption requirements will vary by organization, but each org will have “failed” dogs who need to find homes with loving families.

Adopt a Retired Military Dog

Retired military dogs need homes; they’re in need of a quiet, peaceful, loving home to take them in. These faithful dogs, who have diligently served their country, deserve the best home possible. Most, these days, tend to end up with their handlers, but there are still many dogs that are in need of a loving family.

You can find these dogs through various organizations including:

Organizations such as Lackland Air Force Base, have some stringent requirements for anyone interested in adopting one of their dogs. For instance:

Questions during the adoption process can include:

You’ll be asked if you can provide the medical care the pup may require, too. This is a requirement. Most adoption organizations also ensure that you agree to adhere to all local pet regulations, you’ll provide training and companionship for the dog, too. There’s usually quite a long waiting list for these dogs, with perhaps as many as 200 families waiting to adopt. It can take up to a year before you’ll be able to adopt a dog. These are requirements you’ll have to face when adopting a dog from Lackland’s program. However, each organization will have its own adoption requirements; be prepared for a lengthy process and a long list of requirements you’ll need to meet. Retired military dogs can make a loving companion for you and your family, plus you’ll be providing a loving, peaceful retirement for these dedicated service dogs.

Adopt Police Dog Dropout

It is possible to adopt police dog rejects. These dogs are wonderful, smart pups who just didn’t quite have what it takes to finish their training. There’s nothing wrong with these dogs, and they need and want to have their own families to love and care for them. There are several organizations that can help you find your fur-ever fur baby! You can do a quick search on Google using the phrase “career change dogs.” This should bring up a list of dog adoption organizations you can contact to see if they have dogs available for adoption. Organizations on the list may include:

You can also contact your local police departments to see if they have dogs available for adoption. Or contact your local K9 unit; they may be able to steer you to the right organization to adopt police dog dropout. Be aware that each organization will have their own rules when it comes to adopting one of their dogs. The adoption fee can vary, too; it can be anywhere from $0 to over $1000. High adoption fees are usually due to the high demand for these dogs. You’ll generally find there’s a long waiting list for these special pups. In fact, it can take from months to a year or longer to adopt one of these fine dogs.

Is Adopting a Failed or Retired Service Dog Right for You?

There’s a lot to consider when looking to adopt one of these great dogs including the following:

1. Adoption time: it can take a long time to adopt a failed or retired service dog. You’ll generally find a long waiting list for these special dogs. Understand going into this process that you’ll have to get on a waiting list, and it could take months or years before you’re up for a dog that’s ready for adoption.

2. Adoption prices: an adoption may not cost you anything, while it could cost you over $1000 to adopt a dog. The reason for this is due to the training a retired service dog has received. In addition, these fees are placed back into the facility to help feed and care for dogs they currently have. It may be cheaper to adopt your fur baby from a shelter—just something to keep in mind.

3. Breeds limited: service dogs generally tend to be from specific breeds such as German shepherds, Labs, Golden Retrievers, etc. If you’d like another type of dog, maybe one that’s smaller, then you’ll need to find a breeder for that specific breed or adopt a dog from a shelter or dog rescue.

4. Adoption requirements: each organization will have its own adopt requirements that you’ll have to meet. If you don’t meet those requirements, you won’t be able to adopt a dog. It’s that simple. Requirements may include having a fenced yard, a home that’s big enough for a retired or career change dog, and more.

5. Adoption interview: many organizations also require that you come in for an interview to see if you’ll make a suitable pet parent for one of their precious dogs. Again, if you don’t pass the interview process, it won’t be possible to adopt a dog from that specific organization.

As you can see, there’s quite a process to go through to adopt a career change or retired service dog. However, the rewards are well worth all the effort and the cost, especially when you consider that you’ll have a wonderful furry companion that’s ready to love you!

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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