New hope to reunite Military Working Dogs with their former handlers

November 11, 2013

Military Working Dog handlers have a new organization they can turn to, should they wish to reunite with their former Military Working Dog.

Boots & Collars: Earl’s Hope For Military Handlers & K-9’s was founded in 2013 by Rachel Lawson after her personal experience in trying to locate her brother Lcpl. Brad O’Keefe’s former Military Working Dog.

Fortunately, Brad and MWD Earl were reunited over the summer. Now Rachel and Brad work as a team, along with Public Relations Coordinator Kelly, and Tommy, who is a K-9 expert.

The Boots & Collars website tells their story and has instructions on how to register to search for a former K-9 battle buddy. The wonderful people who adopt retired military working dogs are encouraged to register their dog.

The goal of this wonderful organization isn’t necessarily to reunite dog and handler on a permanent basis. Many times the person only wants to make contact with the adopter and exchange information.

Many handlers and adoptive families have already asked Boots & Collars for assistance in locating a K9 or locating a previous handler. The organization hopes to help them as soon as possible.

With people registering with them now, they will be able to quickly reference any information already gathered. If the information is a match to the search, they can let all parties know instantly. If the K9 being searched for comes upon their retirement and is ready for adoption, Boots & Collars will contact known handlers and inform them of their option to adopt.

All contact information is kept private until permission is given, and will be used solely by Boots & Collars. No mission details are asked for, to ensure this nation’s security.

Their ultimate goal is for the government and military to accept and implement a small addition to the procedures already in place: to take basic information and put it on one form that handlers would fill out as they accept the responsibility of an MWD.

Then, that form would come to Boots & Collars (or appointed office) to be used for future K9/handler inquiries. Same would apply to all (including handlers) who adopt an MWD.

Boots & Collars sadly realize that not every search will have a happy ending, but those details are still needed for those who inquire about a Military Working Dog. It is the nature of life, death, and war.

If your MWD has gone over the Rainbow Bridge, please still register accordingly and leave a note for the organization in the “Note” section. Handlers should note that there is a place to mark yes or no to adopting an MWD that is not able to be adopted by its original handlers.

A lot of information is updated regularly on Boots & Collars Facebook page, where the organization also offers a variety of merchandise for sale. Anyone needing further information can email them at





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