FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - There are currently more than 2,000 active military working dogs across the country.
Military working dogs were once put to sleep after retirement because they were considered unfit to adjust to civilian life. But that changed 16 years ago.
A special retirement ceremony was held for one of Fort Benning's hardest working service members.
Sgt. David Collett gave Zita, the Czechoslovakian Shepherd one last salute.
"It's a sad day so I'm glad that she will be able to go home and chill on a couch pretty much. She's deserved it, she definitely earned it. So I'm just happy for her," said Collett.
Zita now begins her retirement after years as a military working dog. She came to Fort Benning in 2009 as a certified patrol explosive detective and worked alongside her handler through several missions.
"The love that she has to work for me. I'm really going to miss that. Anytime that I went to hook the leash up to her I knew that she was ready to work for me and I didn't have to worry about anything. Whether it be in Afghanistan or stateside doing secret service missions," said Collett.
Medical issues and her age pushes her into retirement. Her working badge was replaced with a retirement badge.
"In the past decade, the military working dog program has established a program to allow these heroes to be adopted to go on to their forever loving home," said Collett.
Zita will now live with another military family, but Sgt. David Collett say he plans to stay in touch with her as much as possible.
Most military working dogs get at least 10 years of service depending on their health.
Sgt. Collett will retire from the Army in the next 10 months after 10 years of service.