MONTEREY, Calif. — A report from the Naval Postgraduate School is highlighting an ongoing problem for the U.S. military: a lack of military working dogs bred domestically.
"Research and Analysis of the American Domestic Government Working Dog Industry," by Air Force Captain Jason Passarella and 1st Lieutenant Robert Paulo Ocampo, is part of the Acquisition Research Program at the Naval Postgraduate School and was published in December.
The authors cite a chronic shortage of domestically-bred military working dogs that has plagued the Defense Department and other federal agencies for more than 30 years. Figures show about 93% of current dogs across all U.S. government agencies were imported from Europe.
In the report, Ocampo and Passarella make the argument that the lack of domestically-bred dogs "creates increased supply chain risk and may threaten the ability of departments and agencies that utilize working dogs to maintain readiness if the supply from foreign markets is contested or interrupted for an extended period."
The report concludes that current challenges of doing business with the Defense Department is a key factor discouraging breeders from providing military working dogs to the government, and suggests several remedies, including the establishment of a government-subsidized dog breeding program and improving the government procurement process.
"Working dogs remain a vital and irreplaceable asset to national security," the authors summarize.
During a briefing last week, Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby was asked about the report and if military working dogs would be part of a supply chain survey.
"We all recognize the critical national security role, safety and security role that working dogs play. And I think there's very few agencies in the government who understand that better than the Department of Defense," Kirby said. "I don't have a specific announcement to make today about the degree to which the secretary's going to consider this. We certainly have seen that reporting and I suspect that we'll want to get more information before making any kind of policy decision about this.
"We absolutely fully understand the capabilities and never mind how much people obviously feel affection for dogs, but the actual security capabilities that these animals bring to the mission and we certainly will continue to take it seriously going forward," he added.