The incident is under investigation, but the Navy thinks the dog handlers seen in the video were museum employees and contractors, not active-duty sailors, a senior Navy official said.
“The inherent message of this video is completely inconsistent with the values and ethos of Naval Special Warfare and the U.S. Navy,” the Navy said in a statement.
Kaepernick, 32, who was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has been criticized by President Trump and other conservatives for kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games to protest police brutality.
The Navy described the handler attacked by the dogs as a “target” for a demonstration on the use of military working dogs to surprise and subdue enemy troops on the battlefield.
In two videos posted to Instagram in January 2019, the dogs launch on the target and bring him to the ground to the delight of a crowd watching nearby. Leading the pack was Raven, a Belgian Malinois who belongs to the museum, the group said.
The museum did not immediately return a request for comment. Raven was trained by Baden K-9, a company based in the United States and Canada. The company did not immediately return a request for comment.
It was not immediately clear who filmed the event. The video caption on Instagram said the stand-in for Kaepernick was attacked “for not standing during the national anthem.”
Criticism of Kaepernick has often converged with attitudes about the military as conservatives claim his protests are disrespectful to service members and veterans.
Trump and others have leveraged the image of Pat Tillman, a former NFL star who became an Army Ranger, to throw barbs at Kaepernick. Tillman was killed in a friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan in 2004.
Robert O’Neill, a former SEAL who said he killed Osama bin Laden, a founder of al-Qaeda, in Pakistan in 2011, has also criticized Kaepernick and his movement.