Military Dogs Celebrated on National K9 Veterans Day

Members of the veterinary medical and surgical team training with military working dog Blus and his handler SPC. Eric Kappel of the 18th Military Police Brigade in Vilseck, Germany, March 11, 2022. Photo: Spc. Xuyang Zhao

On March 13, military working dogs in American history are commemorated and celebrated on National K9 Veterans Day.

The holiday is celebrated on March 13, the anniversary of the founding of the K-9 Corps in 1942 by the military and the official start of dog training to aid humans in war.

“Military working dogs are extremely important to the mission because they have senses that you can’t replicate with machines,” SPC said. Zoe Gillespie, an animal care specialist with 64th Medical Detachment (Veterinary Services Support), 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 30th Medical Brigade.

Not only can war dogs help detect incoming artillery, locate wounded soldiers, and help pass messages between troops, but their presence on the front lines helps boost morale.

The original American “war dog” is widely recognized as Sergeant Stubby, who is said to be the most decorated war dog of World War I and the only dog ​​to be named and promoted to sergeant.

After being injured in a mustard gas attack, Stubby was reportedly fitted with a specially designed mask so he could return to the trenches.

The Smithsonian claims Stubby even captured a German spy, earning him the promotion to sergeant.

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War dogs span the centuries and are considered important members of military units, but it wasn’t until this century that they began to be placed for adoption after their service. Military working dogs, until then, were generally considered “equipment” and thousands have been euthanized over the years upon completion of their duty.

But now, as military.com points out, they even have their own retirement ceremonies, awards, medals, and memorial services.

This story was reported from Detroit.

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