Two Army veteran dogs and a former police dog are set to be put down next week, despite years of life-saving service and reported offers to rehome them.
Belgian shepherds Kevin and Dazz, both aged nine, served in Helmand Province in Afghanistan searching for deadly explosive devices, helping to save hundreds of lives before they retired four years ago.
Ex-police dog Driver is also scheduled to be put down by lethal injection next week. It has been claimed that all three dogs are unsuitable for rehoming.
A devastated animal handler told The Sun: "This is such a cruel way to treat these animals that have given us so much."
Andy McNab, a former SAS soldier and author, launched a petition to save all three dogs on Thursday night (30 November) and it quickly received more than 9,000 signatures. He claimed that experienced handlers have come forward to say they want to home the dogs.
Recalling his own experiences in the field, McNab said: "Service dogs have saved my life on numerous occasions. We have a duty to save them.
"In Afghanistan when I was on a patrol the dogs found an IED in front of us, I was number three in line, I was very, very lucky to survive. They also saved countless lives when I was in the Special Air Service sniffing out explosives.
"Dogs like Kevin, Dazz and Driver are an asset when they are serving but they [are] even more of an asset when they are retired. We owe them every chance possible to be housed and not killed."
The petition will be sent to the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray where the dogs are currently being kept. Staff, including soldiers and dog handlers, have also reportedly written to the centre's commanding officer in protest.
The Ministry of Defence has been contacted for comment on behalf of the Army. A spokesperson told The Sun: "Wherever possible we endeavour to rehome military working dogs. Sadly there are occasions where this is not possible."