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Military Working Dogs Honored with Nation’s Highest Award

This month, American Humane awarded four retired military working dogs (MWDs) with the Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage on Capitol Hill. The awards, the highest national honor for MWDs, recognize the lives and service of brave U.S. K-9s. The presenters were joined by Representatives Gus Bilirakis of Florida and Henry Cuellar of Texas, co-chairs of The Caucus for the Humane Bond.

Each honoree contributed greatly to the cause of freedom. Below, learn more about their stories and celebrate their service.

MWD Troll with his handler, TSgt Robert Wilson

MWD Troll conducted 89 combat missions on a 2012 deployment to Afghanistan with then-Air Force Staff Sergeant Robert Wilson. Together, they logged 1,240 hours supporting U.S. Army and Special Operations units outside the wire. During a raid on an insurgent compound, MWD Troll located three IEDs, saving 65 Coalition Forces members. Upon reaching the compound, MWD Troll detected more buried IEDs, and a concealed tunnel containing nine pressure plates, six AK-47s, 20 pounds of homemade explosives and two high-value targets known to have conducted attacks on Coalition Forces.

While exiting the compound, the unit was attacked, and an Afghanistan National Army Soldier was critically wounded. Sgt. Wilson and Troll facilitated the soldier’s evacuation, via a MEDEVAC helicopter, exposing themselves to imminent danger while clearing a landing zone of any IEDs or mines.

MWD Niko with his handler, Luchian Burke

MWD Niko worked for the U.S. Department of State in support of the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, United States Agency for International Development, and other NATO countries from North America and Europe. Over four years in Afghanistan, MWD Niko conducted more than 600 missions. He protected foreign and U.S. dignitaries, embassy personnel including the U.S. Ambassador, and assisted with visiting U.S. Presidential and Secretary of State details.

MWD Emmie with her handler, Eric Harris

MWD Emmie served with the US Marine Corps during Operation Enduring Freedom. She completed three tours in Afghanistan as an Improvised Explosive Device Detector dog from 2009-2012.

After serving with the Marines, Emmie and her handler Eric headed to the Pentagon, where they were certified as a Pentagon Police Explosive Detector Dog team. Emmie searched hundreds of cars between the Pentagon delivery facility and random sweeps of parking lots. The team was regularly assigned to conduct sweeps for high ranking dignitaries in the Washington, DC area.

In 2018, Emmie retired. Her new job is helping Eric’s autistic son calm down at times, something she started doing on her own.

Sgt. Yeager with his handler, Caroline Zuendel

Sgt. Yeager is a military working dog who performed combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps. During his three tours, Sgt. Yeager participated in over 100 patrols. On April 12, 2012, Yeager suffered shrapnel wounds from an IED that caused him to lose part of his ear. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries. The same explosion took the life of his handler, Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe.

After the attack, Yeager was transported back to the United States and treated for his injuries until he was stable enough to retire. A Marine Corps family was able to adopt Yeager and give him the loving, supportive home he deserves in retirement.

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