Friday, May 22, 2009
Dogs of War
War dog memorial dedicated in 2006, near the Vietnam Memorial site in New Jersey.
They sniff out booby traps, mines, and weapon arsenals. They alert troops of pending ambush. They drag the wounded to safety. They train, work, sustain injuries, and die just like any other soldier in defense of our country.
These are the war dogs, too often unrecognized canine soldiers that have gone into battle from the earliest days to the present, sent to the most difficult and dangerous combat zones in the world. Because of them, countless human lives have been saved.
But shamefully, in the past, most dogs that survived and completed active duty were labeled "excess" by military powers. And after their faithful service to the United States they were euthanized rather than honored.
Fortunately this changed after the passage of H.R. 5314, now Public Law 106-446. In essence, the law requires efforts to place retired military dogs in suitable homes, a far better fate.
In addition, several memorials dedicated to these animals have been commissioned, such as the one pictured above in New Jersey.
I found much fascinating information on the history of war dogs in the United States as well as poignant individual stories. Check out War Dogs and the U.S. War Dogs Memorial sites. Trust me, they are worthwhile reading, most especially on this upcoming Memorial weekend.
And on Memorial Day, when you pause to honor all our brave soldiers, please don't forget to thank the courageous dogs of war.