Petition asks Obama to allow burial of service dogs at military cemeteries

Euro the dog with civilian handler Mike Wilcox, right, attached to the 293rd Military Police Company are preparing for an operation in southern Afghanistan. Euro the dog with civilian handler Mike Wilcox, right, attached to the 293rd Military Police Company are preparing for an operation in southern Afghanistan. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

A new We The People petition is asking the Obama administration to give military service animals the right to a soldiers burial at military cemeteries.

The creator, “P.D.” from Glendale, Ariz., referred to the story of Mina, a dog that served nine tours in Afghanistan, was promoted to sergeant and received an honorable discharge from the military.  A family member of Mina’s handler asked a staffer at the Veterans Affairs Department’s Great Lakes National Cemetery if Mina could be buried there, but was told that canine burials were not possible.

“Please immediately change the rules regarding internment of non-human soldiers in hero's cemeteries and provide a proper soldiers funeral for these brave veterans,” P.D. wrote. “They don't get VA benefits, they don't get a pay check, [and] it’s the least we can do to honor them.”

According to the New York Times, there were more than 600 dogs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011. After sustained pressure from animal rights groups, Congress passed an amendment in December to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that streamlined the adoption process and authorized veterinary care for retired service animals.

As of Friday afternoon, the petition still needed more than 98,000 signatures by Feb. 23 to receive an answer from White House staff. However, the petitioners could perhaps take solace in the work of John Burnam, a veteran who organized an eight-year effort to create the first national monument for military dogs. His work culminated in the opening of the U.S Working Dogs Team National Monument in California this past October.

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