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.