A scathing report from the State Department reveals the poor treatment of dogs sent from the U.S. to Jordan to aid in bomb detection. The report includes photos of malnourished Explosive Detection Canines (EDCs), whose bones are protruding through thin skin and fur. Several of these dogs have died.
Officials launched an investigation after receiving a complaint on the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) hotline.
“These allegations also included reports that dogs were dying due to various medical conditions, lack of veterinary care, and poor working conditions,” according to the report. “As a result, OIG initiated this evaluation to determine whether the Department effectively managed the health and welfare of dogs in the Explosive Detection Canine Program (EDCP).”
The EDCs are trained in the U.S. and sent abroad as part of a counterterrorism assistance program. According to the report, the complaint alleged that the State Department provided the dogs without proper follow-up to ensure their well-being.
The State Department’s antiterrorism assistance program has provided EDCs to foreign countries “to enhance the ability of their law enforcement to deter and counter terrorism,” the report states. While the Department used to run the program along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, it has recently established its own training center for the dogs known as the Canine Validation Center (CVC).
As of 2018, 100 active EDCs trained at the facility and were provided to six partner nations. 70 other dogs that trained in the ATF program remain active in seven partner nations, the report states.
OIG, however, has found “an overall lack of policies and standards governing the program,” according to the report. The dogs are often provided without any signed written agreements or an outline about care, use and retirement.
Follow-ups from the State Department are infrequent and inconsistent, according to the report, and health and welfare problems have specifically persisted in Jordan for years.
In addition to the welfare issues, the State Department did not ensure Jordan could sustain the program on its own and it also could not provide details about dogs in any other programs outside of Jordan.
These concerns have led OIG to make several recommendations for the State Department, including more frequent checks and a plan to address canine retirement and adoption. They also recommended written agreements that outline policies.
The report details specific cases of poor healthcare: One canine named Athena was found severely emaciated less than one year after arriving in Jordan. She had feces in her kennel and no water in her bowl.
Another dog, Mencey, also became severely ill less than a year after his arrival. He was diagnosed with a tick-borne disease and taken back to the U.S. for treatment, where he was diagnosed with a second vector-borne disease that caused renal failure. As a result, he was euthanized in March 2018.
In addition to its list of recommendations, OIG also suggests the State Department cease providing canines to Jordan “until there is a sustainability plan in place to ensure canine health and welfare.”