March 13th is known is K9 Veterans Day
More and more in the news, we hear of canine veterans doing amazing things in the field. To spread the word on how active canines are and how necessary they are to keep people safe, March 13th is known is K9 Veterans Day.
A retired military working dog trainer named Joseph Wright first came up with the idea for K9 Veterans Day. He believed that canines deserved recognition for all their hard work and dedication, so he chose March 13th, since it is also the official birthday of the US Army K9 Corps. K9 Veterans Day is not only meant to recognize canine soldiers, but police dogs, customs dogs, border patrol dogs, and other working dogs who have been trained to do important jobs. Since passing away in 2009, Wright's widow, Sally Wright, has continued his work to have K9 Veterans Day be celebrated nationwide.
Up until 2003 when President Bill Clinton signed a bill, dogs who worked in the military and other law enforcement were regarded as army surplus. Increasingly, states and cities are taking steps to make sure the lives of dogs who serve and have served our country are given their due. Jacksonville FL, and San Diego, CA, have mandates proclaiming March 13th as K9 Veterans Day. Following in Jacksonville's footsteps, the states of Florida and New Jersey also made March 13th a day to honor veteran dogs. To put into perspective how many dogs have worked in the military in the past few decades, Kentucky's State Resolution 232 states, "Over 30,000 dogs have served in the military since March 13, 1942, with over 1,500 and 4,000 dogs deployed during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, respectively. As of 2012, approximately 2,800 active duty dogs have been deployed around the world, including over 600 in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
With the increase in social media, stories of canine police partners have been circulated online about dogs who have lost their lives to violence who are given a hero's funeral procession. Videos and photos are taken of older canine veterans who are given a police salute as they are carried into a vets office to pass away peacefully. Websites including change.org encourage people to sign a petition to spread awareness of the importance of March 13th as well as other petitions to keep canines safe in the field. And just a few weeks ago, the internet rallied to help a police officer who was heartbroken when he found out he couldn't take his police dog with him when he retired. Whether Matt Hickey can keep the police dog, named Ajax, with him remains to be seen but the full article can be read at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/police-dog-ajax_us_56b0ec00e4b0a1b96203d58d.
While the dedication of working canine veterans continues to spread, there is still much work to do to make sure that past, present and future canine veterans are shown respect, so we all must contribute.