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At least 10 United States-trained bomb-sniffing dogs sent to support anti-terrorism efforts in Jordan have died as a result of extreme neglect and poor treatment by their foreign handlers, a federal investigation found.
The federal report released last week blames malnutrition, lack of basic veterinary and preventative care, poor sanitation, and mistreatment by handlers in the deaths of at least 10 of the dozens of dogs provided to Jordan by the U.S. Investigators noted feces-covered kennels, empty water bowls, food tossed onto kennel floors instead of bowls, untreated parasites, engorged ticks, overgrown toenails, protruding ribs in their report. These findings came after a 2016 site visit and welfare report which put pressure on Jordan to provide better care for EDCs.
For over 20 years the U.S. State Department has sent more than 100 specially trained Explosives Detection Canines (EDCs) to foreign allies to enhance law enforcement capabilities and to support anti-terrorism efforts.
In 2017, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)received a hotline tip that bomb-sniffing dogs were being sent to ally nations without proper oversight or requirements for their continued care. The complainant alleged that dogs were being mistreated, neglected, and dying due to various medical conditions and lack of appropriate care. Following the tip, the OIG launched a federal investigation into whether the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Antiterrorism Assistance was effectively managing the health and welfare of canines in the Explosive Detection Canine Program.
While the dogs are generally well cared for in most ally nations, the year-long investigation revealed that at least 10 dogs died in Jordan as a result of poor treatment, neglect, and lack of medical care and that those surviving are living in unhealthy conditions, overworked, with inadequate kennel space and poor sanitation.
“Since 2016, little progress has been made regarding the ability of Jordan to care for EDCs; in that time, however, DS/ATA has provided 66 dogs to Jordan,” the federal report said.
The Inspector General’s office said it “remains concerned that Jordan is not able or willing to provide adequate care for working dogs” and that “any improvements that have been made were simply a reaction to pressure” from U.S. officials.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said, “The best-trained dog in the world is still ill-equipped to protect American interests if it is sick or starving.” He urged the Secretary of State to address the report and detail exactly what will be done to ensure both the welfare of the dogs in the program and the millions of U.S. dollars spent to provide animals to ally nations.
The report declared that the ultimate responsibility for overseeing the Explosive Detection Canines program falls on the State Department. And that, in addition to failing to guarantee the dogs’ health and safety, the department failed to secure written agreements from foreign partners that outline standards for minimum care and retirement of the animals.