American Humane Association, which has worked to help veterans, military families and military animals for 100 years, is encouraging the American public to see a new film that beautifully illustrates the unbreakable bond between two- and four-footed members of the military.

Opening on June 26, Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ family action adventure “Max,” co-written and directed by Boaz Yakin, stars Josh Wiggins, Lauren Graham, Thomas Haden Church. “Max” is the touching story of a heroic military working dog who, after returning from service in Afghanistan, traumatized by his handler’s death, is adopted by the fallen Marine’s family. While in the movie Max is brought home to live with his handler’s family, not all military dogs are as lucky, and American Humane Association was recently working closely with Congress to pass a bill that would ensure such heroes are brought back and reunited with those who care most about them.

The bill, known as the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was passed by the House of Representatives in May and Senate last week and now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature into law. An amendment to the bill, introduced in the House by Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Senate by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), contains language provided by American Humane Association that mandates that our heroic military working dogs will be returned to U.S. soil upon retirement, and that first right of adoption will be given to their handlers and their families. It is estimated that each military dog saves the lives of between 150-200 servicemen and women by detecting IEDs and hidden weapons caches. The lifesaving work these dogs do on the battlefield often continues on the home front, as the return from war is not the end of the struggle for many warriors. Every year thousands of our nation’s veterans are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress, and easing back into society is difficult or even terrifying. Reuniting handlers and war dogs (who themselves can suffer from PTS) helps both heal. In this way the bond between veterans that saved lives on the battlefield now saves lives at home.

Despite the remarkable efforts of the U.S. Air Force, which has worked hard to bring back most war dogs, too many of our four-footed veterans are left behind on foreign soil and never again see their human Battle Buddies with whom they went through so much. The problem is that if dogs are retired overseas, they become civilians and are no longer qualified to travel home on military vehicles – creating an often insurmountable barrier to getting them home.

Over the past year, American Humane Association has helped fund the transportation home of 21 military working dogs and contract working dogs, and helped reunite them with their former handlers. In July 2014, American Humane Association held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to shed light on the need to bring home all our veterans and press for long-overdue changes to the NDAA.

“Dogs mean so much for our brave men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan, and bases overseas, and ‘Max’ does an exemplary job of showing moviegoers the importance of military working dogs,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association president and CEO. “This film brings to life the enduring tie connecting war dogs and their handlers, and anyone who sees this heartwarming story will see why we are fighting to bring home all our military dogs. The House and Senate have done their part by including our language in the 2016 NDAA. We now hope President Obama will stand up for the brave K-9 Battle Buddy teams who have sacrificed so much for their country.”

American Humane Association Gives “Max” its Highest Rating for Safety

Treating animals right, in the military or on movie sets at home, is essential. American Humane Association applauds the filmmakers for their remarkable depiction of the human-animal bond in “Max,” and are proud of filmmaker Boaz Yakin and his production team for maintaining a safe working environment for the animal actors in the film. Certified Animal Safety Representatives from American Humane Association’s “No Animals Were Harmed” program were on the set of “Max” to monitor the safety of the animal stars whenever they were filming, and gave the production its highest rating. The “No Animals Were Harmed” program is celebrating its 75th year, protecting millions of animals on thousands of movie and television sets around the world since 1940.

American Humane Association’s Radio Show Features Two “Max”-related Episodes

On this week’s episode of American Humane Association’s weekly radio show “Be Humane with Dr. Robin Ganzert” on Pet Life Radio, Dr. Ganzert features “Max” director Boaz Yakin and young star Josh Wiggins talking about the making of the film and its important message about the human-animal bond and importance of brave military working dogs. Also appearing on the show is Dr. Kwane Stewart, the Chief Veterinary Officer for the “No Animals Were Harmed” program, to discuss how his team of Certified Animal Safety Representatives kept the animal stars in the film safe from harm while filming the movie’s incredibly lifelike stunts. The second “Max” episode will premiere on June 30th and feature an interview with “Max” star Lauren Graham as well as several members of Congress who attended the Washington, D.C. premiere of the film on June 16.

To listen to both special “Max”-centric episodes of “Be Humane with Dr. Robin Ganzert” click here. To learn about the “No Animals Were Harmed” program, please visit www.HumaneHollywood.org.

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