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Bringing Home The War Dogs

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - With the war winding down, soldiers are returning home. Many times without the furry comrades that kept them safe while fighting in the war zone. Military dogs are labeled as "equipment." It's a label that makes it trick for them to get home once their service is over.

That's where groups like Military Working Dog Adoptions come in.

Kyra was retired after seven tours of duty.

Irving veteran Bill Queitsch adopted Kyra last year around Christmas time. "She's been to Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Jordan," says Queitsch. Since then, Kyra's been getting comfy in her new civilian digs, play with toys and going on walks. "She just goes crazy over smelling flowers. She's never smelled those before," says Queitsch.

About 3,000 dogs, mostly German shepherds and Malinois, are deployed with American forces around the world.

"The dogs have saved countless lives," says Debbie Kandoll, executive director of Military Working Dog Adoptions.

Every year about 300 of these "war dogs" are retired from military service and up for adoption. But that can cost as much as $2,000 since the military doesn't pay for the dogs' return trip home.

"We transport military working dogs because when they retire they are considered pets not vets," says Kandoll.

The Military Working Dog Adoptions group has helped hundreds of working dogs not only return to the States but also find homes.

"We will transport them all over the U.S. so that they're in their perfect home," says Kandoll.

That's a far cry from the Vietnam era when it's estimated only about 200 of the 4,900 working dogs ever made it back home.

The rest were given away, abandoned or euthanized. None of the dogs are euthanized now. In fact, 90% are adopted by their former handlers. Many others are adopted by veterans like Queitsch.

"It's kind of neat because we're both retired. So we can both kick back and enjoy life now," says Queitsch.

If you'd like to adopt a military working dog visit

There's a 9-15 month wait to adopt the canines.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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