A hotline complaint about US bomb-sniffing dogs working overseas jump-started a State Department probe, and the resulting report is a disturbing one. Federal investigators looking into the health and welfare of the canines sent to Jordan—one of several partner nations the US sends specially trained dog to for assistance with anti-terrorism efforts—found the canine program in "dire straits," with at least 10 dogs that had perished between 2008 and 2016. Those deaths weren't from natural causes, the report found, but from medical issues due to neglect and mistreatment in "unhealthy conditions," including feces- and dirt-covered kennels, food thrown on the floor instead of in bowls, and too-strenuous work schedules. Surviving dogs seen by the inspectors were found emaciated (so much so that their ribs were sticking out) and filled with ticks making long-term homes in their ears.
A few cases are covered in gruesome detail, including that of Zoe, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois who died a "terrible death" of heatstroke while working under an improperly trained handler. CNN notes what makes the report more disturbing is that canine trainers were sent to Jordan in 2016 to check on the dogs; that report put up a big red flag, citing an alarming number of deaths, inadequate medical care, and dogs that had "lost the will to work." The report recommends more frequent welfare checks and guidelines more clearly spelled out with partner nations. One lawmaker going to bat for the dogs: GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that "it is important for Congress to know ... whether animals involved in the program are being treated according to the humane and ethical standards that the American people undoubtedly expect." (Read more bomb-sniffing dogs stories.)