The US has temporarily stopped sending bomb-detecting sniffer dogs to Jordan and Egypt after several of the animals died due to what US officials say was lack of care.
“Any death of a canine in the field is an extremely sad event and we will take every measure possible to prevent this from happening in the future,” a US Department of State official told reporters on Monday.
The dogs “play a critical role in our CT [counterterrorism] efforts overseas and in saving American lives,” the spokesperson said.
The state department’s own independent Office of Inspector General (OIG) began looking into the well-being of the animals after reports of canine mistreatment surfaced in the middle of 2017.
In a report released in September, the inspectors reported numerous cases of negligence in the care of about 135 dogs trained in detecting explosives.
These US-trained animals were provided to fewer than a dozen countries as part of a counterterrorism cooperation program.
The main concerns were with Jordan, the first beneficiary of the program, where one dog died due to inadequate care and another had to be euthanized on its return to the US.
The OIG investigators recommended that the US government stop supplying Jordan with sniffer dogs — but the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which sends sniffer dogs abroad, refused to comply.
In a new report released this month, the OIG reported that in June and September, two other dogs had died in Jordan of “unnatural causes” — one due to heat stroke and the other poisoned by pesticides sprayed by Jordanian police in or near the dog’s kennel.
The deaths could have been avoided through better care, the report added.
Three of the 10 dogs supplied to Egypt this year also died prematurely — one from lung cancer, the second from gallbladder disease and the third from heat stroke, an especially terrible death due to negligence and improper care, a veterinarian cited in the document said.
The investigators renewed their earlier recommendation to stop sending dogs to Jordan and have added Egypt to the black list. This time the state department complied.
“We concur with the OIG recommendations to cease temporarily providing additional canines to Jordan and Egypt until those countries implement our requirements to ensure the canines’ health and welfare,” the state department official said.
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