Each year K-9 Veterans get their day – but not officially. Yet there are national and international groups asking for support to designate March 13 as an official day for all canine service dogs.
The idea of a K-9 Veterans Day originated with retired military working dog (MWD) trainer Joe White who wanted recognition for dogs who serve in military, law enforcement, and other capacities. He selected March 13 because it is the official birthday – March 13, 1942 – of the U.S. Army K-9 Corps and today marks the 73rd anniversary.
White’s efforts paid off when, in 2009, Florida’s former Gov. Charlie Crist declared March 13 as K-9 Veterans Day for the state of Florida. Florida was the first state to do so. Since then, other states have recognized this day too, through signed proclamations and legislative action.
A proud White responded in an email following Crist’s actions by stating, “Dogs have served with honor throughout the history of our country’s birth and growth, and have served at many jobs in all of our wars. They, too, served, bled and died for our freedom.”
History of service
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army received the first nine American-trained sentry dogs. From these nine dogs, the U.S. Army Canine (K-9) Corps was formed. Before the close of the war, it grew to a force of more than 10,000 dogs.
On the law enforcement side, the use of service dogs gained ground in the United States in the 1970s. Today, they are considered a part of police forces; in many jurisdictions, the intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a felony and a growing number of law enforcement organizations outfit dogs with bulletproof vests and badges.
Well-trained MWDs and police canines are intended to complement and enhance the capabilities of security forces while meeting the demands of the handler. When integrated into existing security forces, man/woman and dog teams enable those forces to perform their mission more effectively.
Military service dogs perform many duties, including search and patrol; explosives detection; search and rescue; guard duty; and as companions to wounded service members who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Dogs among law enforcement ranks perform patrol, search and rescue, and detection duties for drugs, explosives, arson accelerants, and cadavers.
Let’s face it: Dogs are the most altruistic creatures alive; they thrive on love and purpose to their humans. Canines serve, protect, and save. Efforts will continue to officially mark March 13 as the day for the dogs; they deserve it.
Hi paw to that!