More than 1,200 military dogs that have protected U.S. troops in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries have been killed by the U.S. government.

The hero hounds were euthanized after they were retired from service because they were deemed “too dangerous” for civilian adoption or jobs with law enforcement, according to U.S. Air Force reports given to Congress.

Army Specialist Luke Andrukitis is a military dog handler who has benefitted from this legislation. Andrukitis found his bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois that not only saved his life but also the lives of many others in Afghanistan during Andrukitis’ nine-month deployment in 2013.

He was so upset by the euthanasia that he was moved to save the life of the dog that saved his own life. “(The euthanasia) is absolutely horrible!” he said. “They served their country just like we did.”

The military maintains a force of about 2,500 dogs worldwide, but 1,000 of them are stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Most of them are declared unsuitable for adoption because of their “repeated unprovoked aggressive action”.

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