No Memorial Day for Dog Warriors

flagDedicated to the memory of all those who served . . . Italy, France, Russia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and Great Britain all have formal monuments and decorations dedicated to war dogs by the military organizations under which they served. War dogs in other countries have also been awarded medals and other forms of official recognition for serving their countries. Of all of the countries to employ the use and help of dogs during times of war, the United States military stands alone as the only world military to not formally acknowledge the contributions made by its canine soldiers. Due to a policy that has existed since World War II, and despite the protests of armed forces personnel, the United States military refuses to formally recognize the accomplishments of its canine soldiers, stating that such recognition is “demeaning to servicemen.”

Nearly 4000 dogs served in Vietnam and saved up to 10,000 American servicemen through their scouting and sentry duties. When withdrawing from Vietnam in 1973, the military classified the dogs as surplus equipment to be left behind during evacuation. Many dogs were left with South Vietnamese allies who were afraid of the dogs and didn’t know how to handle them. Many of the dogs were euthanized, and many more perished at the hands of their inexperienced South Vietnamese handlers. Only a handful of Vietnam war dogs made it back to the United States. Many handlers and trainers who worked with these dogs were traumatized by having to leave their faithful companions behind, stating that the dogs saved their lives and often did more work than they did.

Relegated to the status of military equipment rather than personnel, dogs in the U.S. military are drafted for life and are euthanized once they are deemed infirm and incapable of continuing their jobs. The military claims that these dogs are incapable of being retired to civilian life, despite the fact that police dogs, which receive identical training, are successfully and peacefully retired to loving homes and families upon retirement. As a result of the indifference shown toward war dogs, many of their accomplishments have been unjustly forgotten, or at best, relegated to the status of “trivia” by war buffs. Many of the records of war dogs and their handlers have been lost or destroyed, and the public remains largely unaware of the contributions by dogs in the armed forces.

The Vietnam Dog Handler Association, a veterans group, is spearheading the drive to honor America’s war dogs with a national memorial. To learn more or to make a donation, please visit their web site.

Thanks to all who have served, either with two legs or four!

Until next time,

Good day, and good dog!

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6 thoughts on “No Memorial Day for Dog Warriors”

  1. I breed, raise, do stud service, and sell mini dachshunds. I have a website but do not ship my dogs. I just had a woman from Sacramento, CA. buy a dog from me. I told her I do not ship my puppies, but she really wanted one of my Isabella and tans mini dachshunds. I told her that if she flew here and flew the pup back with herself, I would sell her one, and she did. This pup went on the plane in a carrier that was under her seat…and then when she could get the pup out during flight…she did. The baby puppy was not alone in a cargo area, where they are exposed to severe temperatures by itself. I wish other breeders did the same. I love my dogs and treat them with love and respect, not like a suitcase.

  2. I think it is wonderful that our dogs are so good in helping our country, helping and saving others, sniffing out drugs and people. My dad just had his house blown away in a cat 5 tornado…..He and his little dachshund were saved due to a good storm shelter….but others lost their lives. They used rescue dogs to find people. Dogs are definitely man’s best friend. My dogs have saved my life….by being there for me regardless of what people come and go. The other item about the attack dog…Pit Bulls have been given a bad rap just because the person in charge of them has gotten lax. Pit Bulls, Dovermans, German Shepherds, all large dogs that are trained to be attack dogs should be supervised better. If you own a dog such as what I have mentioned….treat him with love and respect, but make sure no one can get hurt around him….unless they are doing their job…Such as a guard dog protecting his area.
    If you want a good guard dog that won’t hurt people, you need to try a dachshund. They have been known to bite when they thought their babies were being hurt, but for the most part, you don’t need an alarm system, if you have a dachshund. And they are so loyal.

  3. Military dogs that served bravely with unconditional devotion to their combat partners – then left behind to suffer the indignity of abuse or neglect, and finally,
    being euthanised. That sounds like the usual military attitude pertaining to human victims of war, using the new-fangled terminology -” collateral damage”.
    Dispensable material, like kleenex?

  4. A military or police dog’s loyal service to the force it served for the good of the country – and therefore, to humans . . . does not demean in any way the memory of soldiers and policemen who died in the line of duty. Is a trained dog’s efforts in wartime conditions less valuable when it dies in action or battle as well? If that’s so, then one should stop using them,

  5. If it wasn’t for the humans the dogs couldn’t have done it so it’s like recognizing both right? And honestly it takes a certain kind of dog to do that work and, to me, it’s really impressive when a dog is capable of that work. Not that it isn’t impressive for people, but doggie cognition is entirely different and most dogs can’t handle a knock on the door or the garbage truck, let alone a warzone. All in all, dogs deserve every bit of recognition humans get, I think. Imagine how many lives would have been lost if there weren’t war dogs..

  6. Heartwarming. It doesn’t make sense for the army to argue that recognizing the dog accomplishments would be demeaning to the human soldiers that serve in the war. There’s so many ways you can differentiate them.

    Dogs should be recognized as dogs and what they achieve as such. i don’t think anyone is asking for them to be recognized as humans or to compare human and dogs at all.

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