Canine soldiers have long been overlooked. The military considers these dogs to be equipment, and has had along history of abandoning dogs at the war front once the war is over, of euthanizing them once they are no longer capable of serving. More than 4000 dogs served in Vietnam, and many were left there afterwards. Finding information about them is difficult as records were not kept on the dogs.
That is changing, and we can help change it faster.
Here is a short list of some of these canine heroes.
Sgt Stubby infiltrated the 102nd Infantry, 1917, then went on to serve in the American Legion, and died in 1926.
Kaiser of "D" Company, 1st Marines, 3rd Marine Division: 1964 - 1966
Nemo, served Air Force, 377th Security Police from 1966 - 1967, retired with disability to Lackland AFB, died 1973.
Chips, 3rd Infantry, 1942 - 1945, received the Silver Star and the Purple, both were later revoked because Chips was a dog.
Smokey, a 4 lb yorkshire terrier who ran communication wires during WWII for the 5th Air Force, served 18 months on the front line.
Rags, 1st Div., Army, ran messages on the front line, and warned soldiers of incoming, 1916 - 1936
List of dogs that served WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Korean War.
Some of the dogs that have or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Lex L479, Afghanistan
Target, served 1 tour in Afghanistan, "accidentally" euthanized by an AZ animal shelter in 2010.
Bart, Navy SEAL, killed in action 2011
Cairo, Navy SEAL, participated on the raid that killed Bin Laden.
Flapoor, 2005 - 2009, Marine, served 2 tours in Iraq, died of his wounds before his 3rd tour.
Monty E030, explosive detection dog
Davy N532, explosives detection dog
Lars J274, explosives detection dog
Patrick L722, explosives detection dog killed in action
Blek H199, deafened in action saving his handler
Kira L471, Air Force special task force
Robby D131, Air Force, still on duty
There's more, many more dogs who have served and given their lives in our wars.
The US Military refuses to formally acknowledge the serve and actions, and deaths, of these dogs, claiming it would be demeaning to human soldiers.
Dogs are drafted into the military service, worked hard, and frequently euthanized when they become unsuitable to continue working. The military claims they can't adopt these dogs out to loving retirement families, even though the dogs receive the same training as police dogs, which are successfully rehomed once their service is up.
Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act (S. 2134) will reclassify dogs as canine members rather than equipment, and provide for their welfare if they servive their military duties without using federal funds.
Let's make sure these brave animals get the recognition they deserve and the retirement they've earned.
Let's stop listing them as "equipment" and "surplussing them out". For every hero dog you hear about finding a home with their former handler, there are dozens more who remain anonymous and treated like equipment, sent to kennels to live their lives out alone, those that aren't euthanized.
It doesn't take a lot of effort to do the right thing. Write your Congressional elected employees and urge them to support this bill, to vote for it. It costs them nothing and could potentially benefit them tremendously.