Handler Request to Congress

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On Sunday, February 14, the New York Post published an article entitled “Lost Dogs of War” addressing the blatant failure of the US Army to reunite handlers with Military Working Dogs (MWD), from the Tactical Explosive Detector Dog (TEDD) program.


This directly violated both Congress’ wishes (10 USC §2583) and the Department of Defense (DoD) policy: “Title 10 US Code 2583 gives priority first to civilian Law Enforcement Agencies, then to prior handlers….”


I am one of those handlers. My dog, [Name tattoo], and I deployed [date range] to [area/country]. The handlers’ understanding, based on the law, was that we would have a chance to adopt our dog, when it was released from working service. In a manner of speaking, one might consider this promise a term and condition of our employment. However, we now know that Richard A. Vargus, OPMG MWD Program Manager (GS-14 and retired LTC), and Robert G. Squires, TEDD Program Coordinator (contractor), not only did not notify handlers of the adoption event, but handed out dogs to friends, family, and business associates. To the best of my knowledge, not one dog, not adopted by a law enforcement agency, went to someone not tied in some way to Vargus or Squires. The contractor, Davis-Paige Management Systems LLC, received over $7 million under Contract W911SR10D0021 for the well-being of the dogs, but no one considered that these war-heroes, many of whom have Canine PTSD, deserved to be retired with the handler who understands them best. Each of the TEDD dogs is estimated to have saved between 150 and 200 lives; this is not the way to treat our heroes.

The Army claims to have conducted a “self-investigation,” but when the Sergeant conducting the information states to others that she would not be naming names because it would be bad for her career, how can anyone believe justice will be a goal? Also, it is my understanding that various members of the military have claimed the pups are “Contract Working Dogs” not under DoD purview, which is false. OPMG conducted the adoption; these dogs were, unequivocally, MWDs. Plus, the military asserts that we, the handlers, are the problem because the Army could not locate a previously submitted “adoption packet.” Of course, they do not reveal that “packet” was not available to most of us, nor were there any clear instructions addressing where and who should receive the packet, if any of us did ferret one out. Neither Congress nor the DoD policy predicates our priority on an “adoption packet.” Additionally, this argument is without merit, because those of us who did submit “packets” were also ignored. Just as all Squires’ friends and family were able to complete adoption papers on the day of the adoption, we handlers should have also been afforded that courtesy. The only difference is Squires ensured his associates knew of the adoption event, while we, Congress’ stated priority in the adoption process, were not.

My request is that Congress conduct an independent investigation of this event and work to make this right for those of us that believed the chance for adoption was a benefit of our service. I would suggest that you start with the legal authority of Squires to sign as the “Agent/Representative of the US Government.” His apparent breach of duty and conflict of interest, resulting in, what appears to be from my perspective, negligent behavior by a DoD contractor, should be a focus of attention.

Thank you for your time and, I pray, your attention to this matter. I can be reached at [xxxx@xxxx] or [123-456-7890] and am able to provide more details, not available in the article, upon request.