Fact Check

Did the U.S. Army Welcome Its First Openly Transgender Working Dogs?

A routine review of content labeled satire.

Published Jan 10, 2020

This photograph taken July 25, 2011 shows the bullet proof vest of US Army Sergeant Nathan Arriaga of the US Forces Afghanistan K-9 unit, bearing M4 ammunition packs and a dog leash for Zzarr, a 6-year old Dutch Shepherd at the Forward Operating Base Walton in Arghandab district. Zzarr who has a rank of Staff Sergeant is a military working dog trained to detect bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED) and currently deployed in southern Afghanistan saving lives of coalition forces in its war against Taliban insurgents. Both Zzarr and K-9 handler Sgt. Arriaga did their first combat duty in Iraq in 2009. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP via Getty Images) (Getty Images/Stock photo)
Image Via Getty Images/Stock photo
Claim:
The U.S. Army welcomed its first openly transgender working dogs.

On Dec. 8, 2014, the military-themed satire site Duffel Blog published an article positing that the U.S. Army had welcomed its first group of openly transgender military working dogs. The article re-surfaced for unknown reasons in early 2020.

Army Welcomes First Openly Transgendered Military Working Dogs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Meet Tracker, a five-year-old, sixty-pound Belgian Malinois and a graduate of the Military Working Dog School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He’s also one of the Army’s first five openly transgendered military police dogs, assigned to the 42nd Military Police Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

Duffel Blog is a parody of a news organization, and all content it publishes is satirical in nature. No content should be regarded as truthful, and no reference of an individual, company, or military unit seeks to inflict malice or emotional harm. All characters, groups, and military units appearing in these works are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or actual military units and companies is purely coincidental.

The satirical story was published in 2014, during the presidential administration of Barack Obama, amid discussions about allowing transgender military members to serve openly. It's unclear why the article surfaced again in early 2020, but Obama's successor, Donald Trump, reversed course on the issue and abruptly announced via Twitter that transgender troops would no longer be allowed to serve.

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.

Sources

Bromwich, Jonah Engel. "How U.S. Military Policy on Transgender Personnel Changed Under Obama."   The New York Times. 26 July 2017.

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