There’s a Dangerous Shortage of Military Working Dogs Right Now

Organizations need to examine themselves on a regular basis. After all, the heads of organizations do not have automatic knowledge of their processes, meaning that examination is needed to pick up on potential issues for correction before they can turn into full-blown problems. This is particularly important for larger organizations because their heads are even further from the metaphorical frontline, thus making it even more difficult for them to get a good understanding of what is happening on their own. The owner-operator of a small brick-and-mortar store can maintain a general awareness of their processes through their day-to-day activities. In contrast, there is no way for the head of a multinational corporation to know what is happening in a single branch in a single community through the same because there is too great a gulf between them.

Naturally, the U.S. government conducts such examinations on a regular basis, which turn up a wide range of interesting findings. For instance, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Post Graduate School has found that the U.S. military as well as the rest of the U.S. federal government has a shortage of working dogs sourced from the United States rather than other countries. Furthermore, this isn’t a new issue. Instead, it has been the case for years and years, presumably because successive administrations haven’t taken it seriously enough to correct it.

Why Is This Such a Huge Problem?

Interested individuals might be surprised by the thought of the U.S. federal government making use of working dogs in large numbers. However, they shouldn’t be. After all, dogs have excellent noses. As a result, they are a very convenient way to detect drugs, weapons, and other controlled items in places where they shouldn’t be. The classic example would be working dogs sniffing for drugs and contraband at airports as well as other transportation hubs. However, the U.S. federal government also uses working dogs at a wide range of other places to detect a wide range of other things. As such, it is no exaggeration to say that working dogs play an important role in its ability to provide basic security.

The U.S. federal government is getting enough working dogs to meet its needs. Instead, the problem is that it is getting just 7 percent of its working dogs from domestic sources. Meanwhile, the remaining 93 percent come from either foreign sources or domestic vendors that import their working dogs from foreign sources. As for why this is such a huge issue, there are a number of concerns that are tied up with one another. For starters, the U.S. federal government gets most of its working dogs from European sources. Generally speaking, these European sources retain the best of their working dogs for European customers, meaning that the U.S. federal government has to make do with the rest. Furthermore, it is forced to compete with other non-European customers, which further hinders its ability to get the best working dogs while also driving up the prices that it has to pay for them. Considering the tasks that are dependent on these working dogs, this represents a potential problem for the United States’s security.

Besides this, supply chains are also a concern. The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that supply chains that stretch across international borders can be disrupted in times of crisis. No one can predict the future with perfect certainty, so no one can say what other kinds of crises can show up in the times to come. However, the fact that it can happen means that it is something that the U.S. federal government should prepare for. It is reluctant to be reliant on foreign sources for other purchases that are important for its security, as shown by how the tanks, the ships, and the other vehicles used by the U.S. military tend to be entrusted to U.S. manufacturers. If the U.S. federal government wants a similar degree of assurance when it comes to its working dogs, it seems reasonable for it to adopt similar measures when it comes to sourcing them.

Why Is There a Shortage of Military Working Dogs From the United States?

On a related note, interested individuals might be wondering whether there is a shortage of suitable sources in the United States, which could explain this problem. Some of them might even be perplexed by the thought because there are plenty of U.S. parties interested in breeding dogs for one purpose or another. Indeed, the problem wasn’t caused by a lack of U.S. sources. Instead, it seems to have been caused by the barriers that must be overcome before U.S. sources can start working with the U.S. federal government in this regard.

Apparently, U.S. sources have to deal with non-standard requirements as well as problematic evaluation system. Both of these factors make dealing with the U.S. federal government more of a hassle that it needs to be, thus discouraging U.S sources from working with it. However, the biggest problem seems to be the uncertainty of the U.S. federal government’s continuing need for working dogs, meaning that they aren’t willing to take the steps needed to work with it when they can’t be sure that the relationship will even exist in the long run.

It remains to be seen whether this problem will be fixed in the near future or not. Currently, the U.S. federal government does run a dog breeding program of its own. However, it isn’t even close to being able to meet the full extent of the U.S. federal government’s need for working dogs. The Biden administration has stressed its interest in getting goods and services from U.S. sources, which when combined with rising interest among some lawmakers, could result in meaningful changes down the road.

Are There Other Options Besides Military Working Dogs For These Roles?

Working dogs are the only convenient option for many of their roles in the present time. There is considerable interest in making machines that can smell scents. Unfortunately, this kind of technology is far from being able to match the convenience of dogs for detection purposes, meaning it seems reasonable to say that working dogs will continue to see use for years and years to come.

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