War dog's death draws fire in Australia

CHRISTOPHER KNAUS
Last updated 13:28 17/08/2011
Explosive Detection Dog Lucky is missing, feared dead in Afghanistan.
Canberra Times
NOT SO LUCKY: Explosive Detection Dog Lucky is missing, feared dead in Afghanistan.

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The probable death of an Australian bomb detector dog in Afghanistan has sparked heated criticism after it was revealed the country's Domestic Animal Services released the animal to the Defence Force last year.

Lucky, a specially trained golden labrador, broke away from a Special Forces unit during a fire fight in Helmand Province on July 4.

Small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire had prevented soldiers from retrieving Lucky, and the Defence Force mounted a concerted campaign to locate the dog.

Lucky has still not been found more than a month after the battle and Defence confirmed yesterday they believed the labrador was probably killed in the fighting.

It was yesterday revealed to the The Canberra Times that Lucky was originally from Canberra and had been kept in the pound before being given by Domestic Animal Services to Defence in July 2010.

The RSPCA has delivered a sharp rebuke to the Australian Capital Territories Government for intentionally putting Lucky into harm's way.

RSPCA ACT chief executive officer Michael Linke said it was ''totally inappropriate'' for a pound to be releasing dogs into an environment where they could be hurt or killed.

''We would hope that the pound and the Government immediately review its policy on this, and bring it into line with the RSPCA policy,'' Mr Linke said.

''We won't home dogs into police combat situations, or military combat situations or bomb detector [roles]. We don't believe that governments and pounds should be doing that either.''

The fire fight in which Lucky was lost also caused the death of Sergeant Todd Langley.

The Defence department delayed announcing Lucky's disappearance and probable death until it exhausted all avenues in searching for him, including offering a reward in the local area.

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- Canberra Times

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