In October 2019, a courageous five-year-old Belgian Malinois special operations military working dog named Conan took part in the Barisha raid in Syria, which resulted in the death of the then-leader of ISIS. Conan joined a long list of heroic military working dogs whom we celebrate each day, but especially on National K9 Veterans Day, taking place on March 13. This date is in remembrance of the day that the United States K9 Corps was officially created, on March 13, 1942.
Dogs in warfare have a very long history starting in ancient times. Originally, the dogs were used to break up enemy formations, charging into the ranks and tearing down as many enemy soldiers as possible. As warfare modernized, so did the service of dogs. Dogs were pressed into new roles, acting as couriers, sentries and scouts. During World War I, dogs originally appointed as unit mascots distinguished themselves in open combat. Now, many working dogs serve in explosive detection roles, helping American and allied forces avoid IEDs and mines, as well as assault teams with special operators. Some of the most famous working dogs throughout history include:
Stubby – Stubby, a bull terrier, gained his fame in World War I, during which time he became a morale-boosting companion for the soldiers in the 26th Infantry Division. Stubby participated in seventeen battles on the Western Front, saved his regiment from an impending gas attack, located and comforted the wounded, and caught a German spy. Stubby was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Chips – Chips was a trained sentry dog and the most decorated war dog from World War II. Chips participated in the capture of numerous enemy troops and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star for his bravery, as well as the Purple Heart.
Cairo – Cairo was a Belgian Malinoi who accompanied the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six when they stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Just like regular SEALs, Cairo was able to perform incredible military missions from sea, air or land. The SEALs brought Cairo along to detect bombs, ferret out concealed enemies and even detect secret doors or passageways in the Al Qaeda safe house.
No matter their role, we at American Humane honor the hundreds of thousands of brave, valiant dogs inducted into service, and thank them for their service. As part of our commitment to recognizing their lifesaving contributions, we are proud to host the Lois Pope LIFE K-9 Medal of Courage Awards. The awards, bestowed at a ceremony on Capitol Hill with Congress and top military leaders, honors military dogs who demonstrate exceptional valor in serving our country. Nominations are open now, and can be completed here: https://www.americanhumane.org/initiative/the-american-humane-lois-pope-k-9-medal-of-courage-awards/.
American Humane additionally provides lifesaving service dogs to veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. America’s two and four-legged veterans served us – now it’s time for us to serve them. To support our military programs, consider donating here: https://www.americanhumane.org/program/military/.