With Veterans Day approaching, many people are finding ways to honor the men and women who served the country, as well as the War Dogs who served alongside them. Several organizations are holding events or promoting awareness of War Dogs to ensure they will also be paid tribute to for their work on the front line and receive the proper pet care they deserve.
Since World War I, the United States military has used War Dogs as scouts, sentries and trackers, as well as in specialized missions like the Navy SEAL operation that located Osama Bin Laden in 2011, according to CNN. Currently, there are about 2,700 dogs serving worldwide, and 600 are deployed in designated war zones overseas, including Afghanistan, areas of Africa and Kuwait.
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Shuck told the Daily Herald that these dogs go out and complete their mission unaware of the dangers – or of how many lives they can save. Shuck was the rescuer and handler of Gabe, a War Dog used in more than 200 combat missions in Iraq. Gabe is now retired and was recently named American Hero Dog of 2012 by the American Humane Association.
The Daily Herald reported that Gabe was trained to search for explosives, weapons and ammunition. Gabe definitely saved soldiers’ lives, Shuck said, recounting how Gabe once found 36 mortar rounds, which “could have been made into 36 (improvised explosive devices).”
Gabe was just one dog honored for his efforts, but soon all of the War Dogs who have served since World War II will be honored in California with an unveiling of the first national monument dedicated to canines. According to the Associated Press (AP), the U.S. Working Dog Teams National Monument will be unveiled on January 1 at the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena. It will then make its way to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Other cities, cemeteries and military bases around the country have similar memorials, but a national monument will join the likes of Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty, according to AP.
For handlers like Shuck, no amount of credit given to War Dogs could be enough. After seeing his dog in action, Shuck said there’s reason for everyone to thank them.
“I want the world to know what military working dogs are,” Shuck told the Daily Herald. “They are so valuable on the battlefield, and they need the support of the American people.”