Mission K9 Rescue Helps Retired Working Dogs Experience Joy in Finding a Family

Mission K9 Rescue dedicates itself to the well-being of the canine members serving in the U.S. military. Their organization was established with the purpose of assisting retired working dogs from the military in finding loving homes after their years of service.

“We are committed to rescuing, reuniting, re-homing, rehabilitating, and providing necessary care for retired working dogs who have served humanity,” says Kristen Maurer, the president and co-founder of Mission K9 Rescue.

Over the past decade, Mission K9 has successfully rescued nearly 1,300 dogs, as reported by Bob Bryant, the co-founder and chief technology officer of Mission K9.

The organization was founded by Maurer, Bryant, and Luisa Kasner, driven by the distressing realization that retired military working dogs were often euthanized instead of being reunited with their handlers.

Initially, when Mission K9 Rescue commenced its operations ten years ago, the responsibility of transporting retired military canines from their international stations, whether it be Germany or Guam, to their former handlers’ homes fell upon the handlers themselves. The high costs and logistical challenges associated with international travel made it impractical for handlers to reunite with their former canine partners.

“We recognized the burden falling on the handlers, and we wanted to alleviate that burden,” explains Maurer.

To address this issue, Mission K9 Rescue extended support to handlers by assisting with costs, travel plans, and advocating for changes in the law to increase the military’s responsibility in caring for its working dogs.

As of 2022, following significant legislative changes and modifications to military regulations, the responsibility of bringing the dogs back from overseas now lies with the military, as stated by Maurer.

While these changes have improved the likelihood of reuniting handlers and working dogs, there are still instances where retired military working dogs find themselves without a home after their service. In such cases, Mission K9 Rescue steps in, providing care for the dogs until they can be placed in permanent homes.

Many of the dogs available for adoption through Mission K9 Rescue are contract working dogs, distinct from military working dogs in that they are trained and owned by private companies rather than the Department of Defense.

Similar to military working dogs, contract working dogs can be trained for bomb or drug detection. However, unlike their military counterparts, these dogs lacked a proper plan for their retirement, as noted by Maurer.

“There was a lack of awareness for them,” she says, emphasizing that handlers working with contract working dogs often return to another contract when their dogs retire and are unable to keep them.

To address this issue, Mission K9 Rescue takes in these dogs, providing them with the necessary care and support until they can find permanent homes.

Maurer emphasizes the organization’s commitment to offering retired canines a comfortable life after their service.

“These dogs never asked to do the job they were drafted into. So, for us, it is an honor to provide them with a home and ensure they live out the rest of their lives in the best possible way,” she adds.

Mission K9 Rescue seeks adopters who share the same dedication to the well-being of their retired canine companions. Prospective adopters should be prepared for potential medical expenses along the way.

“These dogs have trained tirelessly throughout their lives, much like athletes. As a result, they often have medical issues,” explains Maurer.

According to Bryant, retired working dogs will respond to care and compassion with unwavering loyalty and companionship.

“They are undoubtedly the most intelligent dogs you will ever encounter. These dogs are highly trained, follow commands flawlessly, and form a special bond with their handlers that other dogs simply cannot replicate,” he says.

Meet some of the adoption dogs below:


Meet Ice, a 10-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer who served in the TSA’s Explosives Detection K9 Unit at the Los Angeles International Airport. Throughout his career, Ice diligently searched passengers, cargo, vehicles, baggage, and aircraft, ensuring the safety of travelers from around the globe.

Now, in his well-deserved retirement, Ice savors the joys of rest and relaxation under the warm sun, socializing with fellow retirees at Mission K9 Ranch. With a youthful spirit and a zest for life, Ice gets along well with other dogs, embodying the playful energy of a young pup.


Introducing Unix, a vibrant nine-year-old male Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd mix who served in the United States Air Force, specializing in patrolling and detecting explosives. Unix exudes a zest for life and serves as a constant source of entertainment at Mission K9 Ranch, bringing daily laughter to the staff with his infectious smile and cheerful demeanor. Unix gets along well with other dogs and exhibits a strong motivation for toys, making playtime an absolute delight.


Allow us to introduce Cezar, an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois who dedicated his days to detecting explosives and ensuring the safety of military personnel and civilians during his tenure with the United States Air Force. Cezar traveled all the way from Japan to Texas to join us at Mission K9. In his retirement, he spends his time basking in relaxation in the Ranch’s yard or indulging in couch potato activities while bonding with the Mission K9 staff.

Although Cezar’s left ear bears the mark of a past injury sustained during his career, it only enhances his captivating character, as evident in the photos. Cezar gets along well with other dogs, and once he adjusts to his new surroundings, he becomes a calm and content companion, cherishing his well-deserved retirement.

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