'We owe them every chance possible to be housed and not killed'
SAS hero Andy McNab has launched a petition against plans to put down two heroic military working dogs Army bosses say can’t be re-homed.
The petition will be delivered to Melton’s Defence Animal Centre (DAC) where Belgian Malinois Kevin and Dazz, which have been working with trainees since being retired four years ago, are based, according to The Sun.
Author, McNab, whose online petition on the change.org website had already soared to more than 100,000 signatures by this evening, says he owes his life to the brave exploits of the military working dogs - the majority of which are stationed in Leicestershire and Rutland.
SIGN HERE: https://www.change.org/p/defence-animal-centre-save-our-veteran-dogs
Rutland and Melton MP Alan Duncan revealed he has been contacted by an ex-dog handler who served in Afghanistan whose dog was due to be euthanised in 2014, but was saved and now lives a happy life with the handler he served with.
But a retired officer based at the DAC, who lives in Leicestershire, said there must be a “good reason” for the decision.
A third animal, a former police dog named Driver, is also said to be set to be euthanised.
It's reported that Kevin and Dazz, which worked with troops to locate explosives in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, are due to face lethal injections next week.
In the foreword to his petition, McNab said: “Plans to put down hero service dogs Kevin, Dazz and Driver are in place to happen next week.
“Experienced handlers have come forward to say they want to house the much-loved dogs, who have helped save hundreds of lives.
“Kevin and Dazz served in Afghanistan where they searched for explosives and Driver worked for the police force.
“Service dogs have saved my life on numerous occasions. We have a duty to save them.
“In Afghanistan when I was on a patrol the dogs found an IED (improvised explosive device) in front of us, I was number three in line, I was very, very lucky to survive.
“They also saved countless lives when I was in the Special Air Service sniffing out explosives.
“Dogs like Kevin, Dazz and Driver are an asset when they are serving but they even more of an asset when they are retired.
British Armed Forces The Best Chairman Robert Grey (pictured) Former Dog Handler Backs the Campaign
“We owe them every chance possible to be housed and not killed. Please sign this petition now.”
Responses on the petition page include one from Sarah Smith, who posted: “These dogs proved their loyalty and bravery countless times. Is this the way to treat bravery and courage?
"Where have your morals and compassion gone?”
Vic Leventhal posted from Australia: “As an ex dog handler at Sandhurst and Malta, please reprieve them and allow them a happy retirement.”
But a retired Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) officer based at the DAC, who lives in Leicestershire, said: “It is policy that any dog which can’t be re-homed is humanely destroyed, that has been the policy for years.
"Quite a few dogs have had to be humanely destroyed over the years, I’m sure.
“There has to be a jolly good reason why the DAC feels any animal has to be put down.
"It’s very hard to re-train some military working dogs, particularly guard dogs, not to be aggressive.
“Some labradors can be aggressive. The dogs are used to going to the veterinary hospital where they are euthanised.
"I do sympathise with people’s feelings but there must be a good reason why they can’t re-home them.
“The military will also not hand over any animal that requires ongoing treatment.
"The reality is, if you can’t re-home them, they have to be destroyed.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "Wherever possible, we endeavour to re-home them (dogs) at the end of their service life.
"Sadly, there are some occasions where this is not possible."
Earlier this month, Mali, another Malinois based at the DAC was awarded the PDSA veterinary charity Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross after carrying on working in Afghanistan despite being injured by grenade blasts – causing damage to his chest, legs, ear and the loss of a tooth.