Every year, thousands of soldiers have given up their lives to serve their country. Military dogs are right by their side, helping them sniff out bombs, protecting them on the front lines, and guarding the home base of their beloved soldiers.
Many dogs have lost their lives fighting in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2011, 600 dogs have participated in the events in Iraq. Even more dogs work the fields in Afghanistan. Yet, these soldiers are classified by the Department of Defense solely as equipment. These dogs who often saved many soldiers' lives, never get any special commendations either. They are basically.
Currently, there is a bill in the works to remove this label and make it easier for dogs finished with their duty abroad to find a home. This bill will reclassify military dogs as K-9 members of the armed forces and make it possible for dogs to be formally recognized by the U.S. government for their tireless commitment.
In Great Britain, over 800 dogs were put to sleep in the last ten years because they are deemed too fierce due to their specialized training and therefore do not make good pets.
In the Vietnam War, many of these dogs were abandoned there when their service was completed. Now, the tide is turning and many of these dogs are being adopted by their handlers or families of the handler that took care of them but didn't survive. For dogs who don't fall into the previous categories, the U.S. War Dogs Association helps make it possible for military dogs to find a forever home.
In Remembrance Of Those Who Perished
Bart, a Belgian Malinois died with his owner John Douangdara, 26, from Sioux City, Nebraska, who was a Master at Arms Petty Officer, 1st Class when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan last August. He's is just one of many that include dogs like Jacko (Golden Retriever) who died with his owner Gregory Rodgriguez, 35, an Army Sargeant First Class from Weidman, Michigan in 2008 when his patrol came under small arms fire.
One of the most touching master/handler bonds happened when Corporal Kory Wiens and his dog Cooper. Kory made it clear his dedication to Cooper, a labrador retriever, by reenlisting in the army so he could serve until Cooper was able to retire and they would be together. He was only 20 years old when he died together with Cooper on July 6th, 2006 while performing a search patrol. They worked to detect TNT, C-4, detonation cords, smokeless powder and mortars saved countless lives by taking explosives and other IED manufacturing materials out of Iraq.
In 2007, a dog park in Fort Carson, Colorado was named in the honor of these two soldiers. It showed the beginning of change when it came to military dogs.
Thank you to all the veterans who have selflessly given their lives because of their service to our country.
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