Thanks to an amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, retired military dogs will have a guaranteed ticket home from overseas.

When military dogs were deemed unfit for service while serving overseas, whether it be due to old age or injury, they used to be left behind at the military base while their handlers flew home. The dogs would then be sent to kennels in that country and face an uncertain future.

Activists previously attempted to change this policy by submitting the Military Working Dogs Retirement Act. The act was eventually attached to the defense spending bill, which languished in Congress for several weeks before finally getting President Obama’s signature.

When military dogs return to the United States, they can continue to serve as therapy dogs for the veterans they served with. The American Humane Society pushed the bill for an entire year in the hopes of helping both the dogs and their handlers.

“It’s not just those 2,500 precious canines it’s also their handlers at the other end of the leash,” Dr. Robin Ganzert, CEO of the American Humane Society said. “When they come back suffering from those invisible wounds of war, we’re hoping that their four legged battle buddy will help them heal from PTS. We know it works. We’ve seen it work.”

Ganzert told the Washington Free Beacon that the Human Society’s next goal was to obtain veterinary care for canine veterans.

“We also did a call to action to the private sector and said, okay guys, time to step up and provide for veterinary care,” Ganzert said. “We achieved free specialty veterinary care but I’m still calling for free primary care. These handlers that are former-military, a lot of them, to have a battle buddy in their home is a grand expense.”

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tyler Meister)