CGMA launched a grant to help the Coast Guard’s working dogs in retirement, including their medical expenses. The Coast Guard also celebrates all dogs as part of National Dog Day today, Aug. 26.
After spending years of service with the Coast Guard, each of the service’s 18 working dogs will now enjoy additional support once they retire. Inspired by Feco, a Hungarian Vizsla who served for nine years as a Marine Safety and Security Team canine member, the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) is now offering a new Retired Working Animal Medical Expenses Grant (WAG). It covers up to $1,500 in medical insurance per year after the dogs retire, as well as, cremation expenses at the end of their lives.
“The WAG program came into being in time for Feco’s retirement in July when we realized that [Coast Guard working dogs] don’t receive any federal funding after retiring,” explained Erica Chapman, the CGMA’s fundraising manager. “CGMA has long supported retirees and it seemed important to support our canine retirees too.”
Chapman further explained that during their service with the Coast Guard, the dogs are well cared-for, trained and mission-ready, but traditionally care and financial support did not extend into retirement.
“Mutual Assistance stepped-up to support those working dogs with veterinary medical insurance,” said Chapman. The program was announced during Feco’s retirement ceremony. Feco completed his service with the Canine Explosive Detection Team in San Francisco, a section of the Marine Safety and Security Team.
Feco’s handler, Coast Guard active duty member Petty Officer 1st Class Corey Sumner, expressed his gratitude for the new program. “The WAG program is going to help a lot by relieving the financial burden. It means I will have the extra help that could make a life-saving difference for Feco.” Feco and Sumner worked together since 2014.
It is customary for canines to hold one rank higher than their handlers. In fact, Feco was also given rank as a chief petty officer. Together, these teams provide security and safeguard key resources and critical infrastructure in and around major U.S. ports and during national special security events.
During their time serving together, Feco and Sumner participated in and provided security for more than 1,500 events. Sumner said highlights of Feco’s career included providing security for high-profile gatherings and protecting hundreds of thousands of lives at events including multiple NFL Super Bowls, Major League Baseball games, multiple Fleet Week engagements, golf tournaments, and even conducting security sweeps for heads of state including presidential and U.S. Supreme Court justices’ motorcades.
Feco was presented with the Animals in War and Peace Distinguished Service Medal earlier this year during a ceremony in Washington D.C., where members of Congress recognized and honored six animals during the second annual award ceremony.
Maureen Manning, daughter of the late Rear Adm. Alfred P. Manning, is the program’s founding donor. “All members of our service deserve to be taken care of and that includes the four-footed ones,” said Manning. She contributed in memory of her parents and her own Vizsla, Sandy. Manning wished her father could have seen the modern canine program, as he would have been inspired by their amazing work and courage.
“At CGMA, we are happy to show up for our Coast Guard retirees, including our Coast Guard working dogs,” said retired Rear Adm. Cari B. Thomas, CGMA’s chief executive officer. “The WAG program is just one of the myriad of ways CGMA continues to find to serve the evolving needs of the Coast Guard community.”
Contact CGMA’s headquarters if you have further questions by emailing CGMA email@example.com or calling 703.875.0404.