SAN ANTONIO, Texas (NNS) — Sailors with Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Lackland on board Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) step forward to volunteer their time and open their homes to raise Military Working Dog (MWD) candidates, as part of the Department of Defense (DoD) MWD Breeding Program.
The breeding program began in April of 1998 at the U.S. Air Force 341st Training Squadron located on board JBSA due to the worldwide need for more detection dogs. In the 1990’s, after decades of procuring dogs from Europe, the DOD saw a need to breed and raise their own as a vital part of national defense. The program breeds two types of dogs, the Belgian Shepherd Malinois’, which is the most common, and the Dutch Shepherd.
“Having a good dog and having a great dog that is exceptional at producing really good dogs is different and very special,” mentioned, Dr. Stewart Hilliard, MWD breeding program manager, 341st Training Squadron.
A large part of the program’s success is dependent on volunteers to provide temporary homes for developing puppies. A bond and support network is created among volunteers who make themselves available to help guide each other through the process of fostering a puppy.
“NTTC Lackland plays a major role in supporting the program,” stated Master-at-Arms 1st Class Justin Treml, foster puppy coordinator at 341st Training Squadron. “We currently have five volunteer foster families at NTTC Lackland. “The main goal of the program is to introduce the puppies to a loving family, expose them to different environments, ensure they have one-on-one time, and teach them socialization skills.”
From six weeks to seven months, the puppies spend time with a foster family and at the end of that stage, MWD trainers test them to determine if they are suitable for the MWD training phase.
“A dog does better when it has a lot of one-on-one time with a family rather than a little time with an expert,” stated Hilliard.
MWD trainers can make a prediction on the dog’s potential at the seventh month mark. Approximately 50 percent of the puppies raised through the program make it to the MWD training phase and of those dogs, 75 percent go on to become certified Military Working Dogs.
As for the puppies that do not certify as a MWD, some go on to serve within law enforcement agencies around the world. Others are formally adopted by either their foster family or by another loving family within the community.
“I volunteered to foster a puppy because of my love for dogs,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Matthew Birmingham, an instructor at NTTC Lackland. “There is something special about being a part of something larger than one’s self; the dog I’m fostering has the potential to save lives.”
For more news and information about the DoD MWD Breeding Program, follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DoDMWDBreedingProgram.
The Center for Security Forces is the parent command for Naval Technical Training Center Lackland. The Center provides specialized training to more than 28,000 students each year. It has 14 training locations across the U.S. and around the world – Where Training Breeds Confidence.
By Chief Master-At-Arms Jesse J. Lindsey, Center for Security Forces Public Affairs