Monday, Senator Mike Braun and Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced the Working Dog Health and Welfare Act of 2023 to increase the safe and humane treatment of federal working dogs.
“Working dogs” are used for the detection of explosives, narcotics, and missing persons, as well as serving in patrol and navigation capacities.
This legislation would include programs that detect abuse and neglect of these animals, as well as ensuring emergency medical care, exercise, food and water, rest and off-duty time, and medical needs after retirement.
“Federal working dogs, who work diligently alongside their human companions, risk their lives daily to ensure the safety of Americans. As both a leader in the Senate for animal welfare and a dog owner, I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure that these animals are protected both during and after the time they serve.”—Senator Braun
“Our commonsense legislation protects Arizona working dogs from inhumane treatment – ensuring they are strong and healthy enough to keep Arizonans safe and secure.”—Senator Sinema
“The Working Dog Health and Welfare Act of 2023 is a strong step towards making the country a kinder place for animals. Working dogs within our government agencies operate alongside human partners to perform invaluable services—including helping to sniff out threats, sense dangerous substances, and rescue those in peril. We rely on these amazing animals for help, and now it is time we treat them with the respect they deserve. This bill will help to ensure that government agencies implement GAO recommendations that promote the health and welfare of working dogs.”— American Humane Society, President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert
“The American Kennel Club applauds Senator Braun’s leadership in introducing the Working Dog Health and Welfare Act of 2023 to implement recommendations for protections and standards of care for U.S. Government working dogs outlined in the Government Accountability Office report, ‘Working Dogs: Federal Agencies Need to Better Address Health and Welfare’. Government working dogs do extraordinary work every day in protecting Americans at home and abroad. These dogs deserve our efforts to provide them quality care and the protections too.”— American Kennel Club
- There are nearly 5,500 working dogs served in the federal government within 64 programs at eight departments and three independent agencies. Officials from these programs identified that the most common job for federal working dogs is the detection of explosives, narcotics, and missing persons. Federal working dogs also serve in patrol, navigation, and other specialty capacities.
- In October 2022, the Government Accountability office cited 18 issues pertaining to the treatment of federal working dogs including lack of programs that detect abuse and the mistreatment of these animals in a report entitled “Working Dogs: Federal Agencies Need to Better Address Health and Welfare.” In addition, there is a lack of regulation pertaining to emergency medical care, exercise, food and water, rest and off-duty time which are critical to the well-being of federal working dogs.
- The Working Dog Health and Welfare Act would ensure that federal agencies implement GAO’s working dog recommendations for existing working dog programs within 180 days of enactment. It would also require new working dog programs to proactively implement GAO’s recommendations. Finally, the bill requires agencies to submit a report to Congress on the steps taken to implement GAO’s recommendations.