The nation honors four-legged service members on K9 Veterans Day

By Nealie E. Sanchez |

March 13 is National K9 Veterans Day

The Origin of MWDs:

german-shepherd-967163_1920While dogs make great companions and family members, dogs have also been in demand for war dog operations since the founding of the U.S. Army K9 Corps on March 13, 1942.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, dogs, largely donated by owners, began training to join the war as military working dogs. According to the National Day Calendar, by November 1942 the first Dogs for Defense were prepared for duty in North Africa.

According to Rover, more than 10,000 dogs were trained for Dogs for Defense and used by the Army, Navy and the Coast Guard during this time.

Joseph White, a retired military working dog trainer, originated the idea for K9 Veterans Day, a day to honor K9 veterans and working military, police and rescue dogs, National Day Calendar says.

To this day, dogs can be trained to detect bombs and drugs as well as patrol trained for scouting, searching and attacking in order to protect handlers and guard military bases.


According to Rover the original K9 Veterans returned home to their owners after going german shepherd with flag brownthrough a retraining period or retired with their military partners, but controversy over K9 retirement remains.

Prior to November 2000 dogs returning from war were euthanized, according to a PBS interview with Collen McGee, public affairs officer at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

However, with the enactment of Robby’s Law, suitable military working dogs can be adopted — in order — by “former handlers of the animal,” “other persons capable of humanely caring for the animal” or “law enforcement agencies.”

In the state of Texas the Warrior Dog Foundation was founded by Mike Ritland as a place for retirement and rehabilitation of retired Warrior K9s slated to be euthanized.

Here, K9 veterans that go unadopted by handlers can be cared for “with dignity and grace, including both mental and physical rehabilitation for the rest of their lives.”

“We provide a rare sanctuary of last resort and as a result, our retired K9s often stay with us for many years, and some live out their lives with us,” the official Warrior Dog Foundation website says.

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