Following an appeal by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) after animal rights groups lobbied her last year, the Military Police Command has for the first time accepted applications from civilians to adopt retired military dogs.
The first pair of military-trained German shepherds to go up for adoption, Dape and Niko, would be able to live out their lives outside a military barracks, the command said, adding that they had accepted applications until Sunday.
The first stages of application review began yestersday, with the review committee asking for the involvement of animal rights groups and veterinarians, the command said, adding that the second stage of reviews would commence on Monday. The winning applicants are set to be drawn in a lottery on Dec 19.
The two animals were trained as sniffer dogs, specializing in the detection of explosives, and have been on active duty on many important occasions including National Day celebrations, New Year’s Day celebrations, meetings with foreign dignitaries and international competitions. They have also been used to check disaster relief goods, the command said.
Both dogs are 10 years old, which is equivalent to 70 in terms of human age, but they are in good health and the military has made special preparations for their retirement, Military Police Command head of combat and garrison division Cheng Chia-chi (成家麒) said.
For their adoption applications to be successful, people had to be aged 20 or older, be financially independent and have an above-average income, and also have a home measuring at least 30 ping (99m2), Cheng said, adding that financial independence was important because an adult German shepherd will eat as much as its human owner.
Cheng said that a large home is important because the dogs are used to having large open spaces for exercise and, like humans, need to move around, adding that the military also required the family members of the applicants to sign the application to show that they were willing to have a large dog in the house.
According to its plans, the military will sign the dogs over for adoption on a contractual basis, and military personnel will work with the future owners to teach the commands they should use with the animals. There will also be visits by military veterinarians every six months to determine the health of the dogs, Cheng said, adding that the contract will include a clause giving the military the right to terminate the contract if the dogs are not being looked after properly.