[quoteicon author=" Mario Tomasello"]A soldier doesn’t fight because he hates the enemy in front of him, he fights because he loves what he left behind.[/quoteicon]

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The Labrador Soldier

Explosive Detection Dog CWD Carlos retired in 2011 at 8 years old from protecting US and ISAF forces in continuous deployment for nearly 5 years. CWD Carlos, who worked with the US Army’s 3rd & 4th Infantry Divisions in Baghdad for 2½ years, was then transferred to Kandahar in 2009 to work in direct support of US Special Forces on the front lines. Hero dog Carlos is credited with actual finds on missions which saved countless American Soldier lives. As Carlos aged, he was transferred to work with ISAF.

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Carlos’s Adoption Picture from Afghanistan

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A Soldier Turned Labrador Rescue

Sadly, upon retirement the contracting company farmed Carlos out to a local Afghan national where he suffered neglect. To this day, Carlos still carries the ligature mark scars on his back legs from hobble-style restraints. Fortunately for Carlos, he was eventually reclaimed by the Contractor in Kabul until his adoption by the Ridpath family allowed his “Freedom Flight” HOME!

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A Veteran Cancer Survivor

Ever the Noble Warrior, in retirement Carlos has survived Cancer, Spleen and Laryngeal Paralysis surgeries. Carlos continues to joyfully serve his many friends and is a Goodwill Ambassador for Military Working Dog Adoptions. In order to bring awareness to the contributions of all working dogs, Carlos attends events, visits schools and never meets a stranger he didn’t like. He received a USWDA Medal of Recognition and was honored in Colorado Springs as a “2012 Hometown Hero.” A true Hero who saved countless lives while deployed, a Warrior with a zest for life in spite of challenging medical issues: CWD Carlos inspires everyone he meets!

It’s a Lab Thing’s Take

It’s a Lab Thing will always Support our Military! Growing up in a Military house myself, I have a great respect for what our soldiers, both human and K9,  do for us every single day. They unselfishly do their jobs so that we can be safe at home. Military dogs need the Love and Support just like their Human counterparts when they return home from Tours of Duty. Give Carlos your support and VOTE for him starting May 7th Here: VOTE FOR CARLOS

[box title="See more of Carlos the Military labrador"]Carlos’s Facebook
Vote Here for Carlos[/box]

21 Responses

  1. Geraldine Watson

    Shame on the contracting company for so callously discarding this loyal hero because he was old. Glad they redeemed themselves and took him back, tho’, but pity he had to suffer neglect and abuse first.

  2. mary Beth

    Why was Carlos “farmed – out” in the first place !? Who was this contracting company !? This should have never happened ! The severe neglect and abuse Carlos suffered makes me so sad ! Please let’s not let this ever happen again. Once these dogs are finished their tour of duty they should be treated with the utmost respect and kindness. I am so happy Carlos is doing great now.
    Is there a program that can be implemented so that this never happens again ? How about creating a site for these retired dogs to come back to the US with an adoptive family that is properly “vetted” before adoption?
    I would have gladly adopted and paid for Carlos return and continued care. He should have NEVER suffered.
    Sincerely,
    MBP

    • Ruby Ridpath

      Hopefully my reply will answer your question. MWDs are owned by the Military (Dept of Defense-DoD) and are assigned to a specific unit. MWDs are deployed and return with their handler and unit. CWDs (Contract Working Dogs) are owned by private Companies that contract their dogs with the DoD to work side by side with the MWDs doing the same jobs to save the lives of our troops. CWDs are not attached to a specific unit during their years of service and are sent wherever they are needed thus they remain overseas the entire time.

      Here’s the major difference. When a MWD is retired overseas, they are cared for and retained by the Military until a former handler or civilian adopts them and pays for their transport home. When a CWDs contract with the DoD is over and the dog is retired, since they are the property of a private contractor the contractor can decide what to do with their property. It is VERY expensive to transport a dog back to the US. Because of that cost, SOME contractors choose to pay for the transport home and others…..well, they do not want to pay that expense so the dogs are farmed out, released, etc… As in every business, there are good and bad companies. Even if required in the Contract that the dogs be returned to the US, there is no department or division to oversee or enforce that stipulation.

      If Carlos wins the 2013 AHA Hero Military and even goes so far as to win the Overall Hero Dog, the awareness of the plight of these warriors will spread and maybe something can be done to change what happens to them. Additionally, if Carlos wins in the first round, his Charity Partner, Military Working Dog Adoptions (works with both MWDs and CWDs) will receive $1500 and if he wins overall, another $5000 will be donated to them.

      MWDA stands in the gap to transport our nation’s retiring hero dogs back home and in the case of CWDs are the approved Adoption Facilitators for 1 Contractor that does bring their dogs back home and wants to see them in loving forever homes. MWDA is working to establish the same type of relationship with other contractors because “no dog should be left behind” like they were in Vietnam.

      Carlos is a Hero because of his service and the countless lives of our troops that he saved, his surviving many medical issues, but also because as a Goodwill Ambassador he is helping to save the lives of his brothers and sisters in paws still working by raising awareness of the CWDs.

      Thank you for your concern and I hope I answered your question sufficiently.

  3. Audrey

    That contractor should have known better – dogs aren’t given respect or care in that part of the world. Glad he made it home, though – he’s one brave and lucky pup!!!

  4. mary Beth

    So let’s not let this happen to any others.
    What is the name of the contracting company ?
    Is there anyway we can keep track of these dogs once their tour of duty has ended and they need to be re homed?

    • Ruby Ridpath

      Mary Beth, please see my response to you above. Thank you so much for caring.

  5. Tracy Ganow

    Hello Carlos and Ridpath’s,
    Thank you so much for what you did for Carlos. What does it take to get to adopt a dog and get it home….I am a proud owner of Lab’s and would love a Hero Dog and a chance to save a life from a terrible outcome, give that dog the love and respect he or she deserves and be a dog’s forever home. Thank you for your information. Please let me know what it takes to save a life! If you need to contact me directly please feel free to message me and I will give you my contact information. I appreciate your time! I can not believe we leave a hero/soldier behind!

  6. Alison Armstrong

    Dear Carlos, I have little or no idea of what you have been through, not coming from a country at war. You are a very special dog, who deserves all that comes to those who serve. You are a survivor like few others. God bless you and those who care for you. xxx

  7. Daisydoo

    Dogs are not respected in many countries and it was very cruel and irresponsible to leave him with people who are known for their cruelty. Shame on the person who was responsible for treating this wonderful canine so badly – Carlos you are an absolute darling! My Hero, Marry me! xxxx

  8. enjaytee

    yes shame on the contractors who ‘farmed’ him out. i find it incredible that an dog like carlos was passed on to people with less intelligence than him, and in a country known for their lack of care with animals.

  9. Military Dogs coming to Capitol Hill | zpolitics | politics in a snap!

    […] “Carlos,” the 2013 AHA Military “Hero Dog,” now lives with the Ridpath family of Colorado Springs, CO.  He is credited with saving the lives of countless American personnel as an explosive detection dog; his adventures have included mistreatment at the hands of an Afghan national who briefly adopted him (he still bears ligature marks on his back legs), surviving cancer, spleen and laryngeal paralysis surgeries.  Even now, in retirement, he continues his loyal service as a Goodwill Ambassador for Military Working Dog Adoptions.  He attends events, visits schools and was honored in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a “2012 Hometown Hero.” […]