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
America’s Memorial Day arrives on Monday, May 28. This is a time to remember the sacrifice of the country’s military men and women, those who gave the ultimate – their very lives. Over the course of time, more than 600,000 service men and women have died during times of war, including more than 2,200 in Afghanistan, more than 58,000 in the Vietnam War, nearly 37,000 in Korea, and more than 530,000 during World Wars 1 and 2. In addition to military personnel, civilians were also killed during these conflicts.
Animals have been, and still are, used during wartime. Horses and dogs have primarily served, and plentiful numbers of them have lost their lives. Other animal species, including pigeons, dolphins, camels, and mules have also served during wartime. Some carried messages, some carried humans – all have worked, and continue to work, in service to their country’s forces. They are often the unsung heroes of war. The U.S. War Dog Memorial, located in New Jersey, was originally established in 2006 to honor dogs and their handlers of the Vietnam War. However, it’s become the symbol of dogs who have served, and continue to serve, the U.S. military in all conflicts. Some states, including Tennessee and Colorado, also have, or plan to have, a war dog memorial.
Times of war are not the only time that animals serve and are looked upon as heroes. There are plenty of incidents in which dogs, cats, and other animals have saved humans. For example, Kahn, a Doberman who had only been with his adopted family for a few days, saved a toddler from a snake, and Pudding, a rescued cat, who saved his owner experiencing a diabetic seizure. Animals save people from drowning, from intruders, and from illness and accidents. Many do these heroic acts at the cost of their own lives, including K9 police dogs and military service dogs.
As we take time during Memorial Day weekend, especially on the day itself, to remember the people who gave their lives for our country and our freedoms (and the freedoms of others), let us also remember the numerous animal who also have given their lives in service. Whether in the military, on police forces, or living in homes with human families, these animals showcase devotion, loyalty, love, and friendship – character traits of noble and beloved animal heroes.
The American Humane Association presents the Hero Dog Award later this year. Visit their website to learn more about the dogs up for the award in 2018; you can cast your vote before July 11, 2018: http://herodogawards.org/vote/.