National K9 Veterans Day is celebrated every year on Match 13th. This year, its on Saturday March 13, 2021. This day was established to recognize and celebrate the contributions that Military Working Dogs (MWDs) have made to the military over the decades.

Dogs are very smart and loyal creatures. All throughout history, its been noted that dogs have been apart of military campaigns, carrying out tasks like sending and retrieving messages, patrolling, and providing warnings of danger. For more information on Military Working Dogs and ways to celebrate National K9 Veterans Day, keep reading.

MILITARY WORKING DOGS: HOW IT STARTED

The U.S. Military first began introducing dogs to the military during WWI. At first, dogs were only used for message delivery between troops. However, the military quickly realized that if properly trained, dogs could be used for so much more. So in March of 1942, the Dog Wars Program was established. These dogs ended up carrying out various tasks. For example, the Navy used MWDs to guard shipyards. The Coast Guard used them to patrol coastlines and the USMC even used MWDs in the Pacific theater to recapture islands overrun by Japanese forces! In fact, during WWI, the need for MWDs because so high, that American families donated their own dogs to the war effort. While its been widely reported that dogs performed acts of bravery and heroism during combat and war, approximately 1,000,000 dogs were killed in action during WWI.

MILITARY WORKING DOGS NOW

Military War Dog at airport

Today, there are roughly 3,000 MWDs deployed all over the world and work for multiple law enforcement agencies including the military, US Customers, Border Patrol, police forces, and federal law enforcement agencies. Depending on which agency they work for, responsibilities can differ. A popular sense these agencies depend on is the dog's sense of smell. They use MWDs to sniff out illegal drugs or substances, sniff out bombs, or even sniff to see if someone has a certain disease like COVID!

Today, MWDs are apart of a program called the Military War Dog Program. In order to join, dogs are required to undergo intensive screenings and training. They are trained with the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. Over the last two decades, laws and bills have been passed to give protections to retired Military Working Dogs. And it's important to recognize the sacrifices and accomplishments of Military Working Dogs.

NATIONAL K9 VETERANS DAY HISTORY 101

K9 Veterans Day was established by Joe White who was a Vietnam Veteran as well as a K9 handler and trainer. Since the US K9 Corps (War Dog Program) was created on March 13, 1942, Mr. White chose March 13th as the day to recognize, honor, and celebrate MWD veterans. After Mr. White's death in 2009, it was his wife, Sally who actually continued his efforts and made it a official national holiday.

WAYS TO CELEBRATE K9 VETERANS DAY

War Dog memorial statue

Now that we know the history behind K9 Veterans Day and how important Military Working Dogs are to the military and other agencies, lets keep going for ways to celebrate this special holiday.

  1. Visit a Military War Dog Memorial: There are War Dog Memorials all across the United States. From memorials honoring mail delivery war dogs to dogs who help firefighters today, they are everywhere. You just have to look. This year, take your family and find one near you. Here's a list of 15 popular war dog memorials.
  2. Raise Awareness on Social Media: Raise awareness to help celebrate K9 Veterans Day by posting something about the holiday on March 13th. Be sure to use the #NationalK9VeteransDay or #K9VeteransDay.
  3. Donate: Use this holiday to donate to a charity that supports K9 veterans or even just veterans. There are plenty of ways to donate and they can always use your help.
  4. Honor a Vet: If you're lucky enough to know a retired K9 Veteran, get that hero a treat, bone, or new toy!

As we celebrate K9 Veterans Day, it's important to remember the sacrifices both dogs and their handlers have made to help America. We celebrate and thank all our K9 Veterans and their handlers on this very special day.

Sources:

  1. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/dog-memorials/
  2. https://militarybenefits.info/k9-veterans-day

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