Today, March 13, is America’s National K9 Veterans Day. Military working dogs are vital to America’s military. Sentry duty, explosive detection, and casualty location are just a few of the jobs these special animals are trained to do.
The different branches of the military use dogs as does the Coast Guard, which is under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. Many of these animals go on patrol with their handlers, a great number are used to sniff out bombs and drugs, and some even learn to leap from helicopters for search and rescue and other missions.
Whether conducting searches, sniffing for explosives or drugs, or going on patrol, the military’s faithful canines serve their handlers, their units, and our country.
Dogs and other animals have served in war for centuries. Whereas they may have been “disposable” before, today’s military K9s are important members of their service’s units. A memorial for war dogs was dedicated in 2006.
There is also a strong movement in our nation that, upon retirement, a military working dog goes to live with its handler or its handler’s family. For decades, these brave canines were classified as “equipment” and often left overseas. The American Humane Association has worked with Congress to change this and to reunite retired military working dogs with their handlers as well as provide service and therapy dogs for human veterans in need.
Military heroes are both two-legged and four-legged, and oftentimes, they work together to serve our country. Let’s remember and honor those who keep us safe!
Learn more about K9s in the military and this special day to honor them here: https://www.military.com/veterans-day/k9-veterans-day.html
Many of us recognize some dogs have jobs, such as herding, hunting, and guarding. However, did you know some dogs serve in the U.S. military?
According to an article by the American Forces Press Service, the United States Military uses more than 2,000 working dogs throughout the globe. The Department of Defense’s Military Working Dog Program, based at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, deploys dogs and their handlers of the different branches of military service to various parts of the world. These teams safeguard military bases, help fight the war on terror, and detect bombs and other explosives. Because a dog’s sense of smell is so acute, they can detect the smallest trace of explosives and drugs, and they are trained to alert their handlers of such materials.
Dogs serving in the military isn’t anything new, even though their duties might be. Canines served in World War I and II as well as in Vietnam. They have been instrumental in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even in the capture of Osama bin Laden with the Navy Seals.
Different dog breeds have been used in military service, including Labs. Today’s military working dogs in the Defense Department program are primarily German and Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois. About 500 dogs are deployed at one time.
A memorial to dogs serving in war was dedicated in June 2006. It is found at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. Learn more here: https://www.njvvmf.org/us-war-dog-memorial/.
On Sunday, November 11, America celebrates Veterans Day. Let us take time to honor our human veterans as well as our military service dogs. Both display deep loyalty to country and to each other. Let’s not forget their sacrifice!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.