K9 Veterans Day
Canine veterans are awesome. They show bravery and dedication in their job, and are committed to their handlers and the others they protect. To show respect to canine veterans, March 13th is known is K9 Veterans Day.
Members who have worked with the armed forces have always needed the help of their canine comrades, but it wasn’t until WWI that dogs started to get involved. The U.S., seeing how Europe used dogs as message carriers, started to use dogs of their own, and after that, dogs were increasingly called to duty. It wasn’t until March 13, 1942, when the United States Army began training dogs for the newly established War Dog Program, or “K-9 Corps” that they became a critical part of the armed forces.
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, so he chose March 13th to coincide with the 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.
A 2003 bill signed by President Bill Clinton that 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 and 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.
As long as canine veterans continue their hard work, we need to work to make sure their efforts are recognized. Please join us today in thanking our canine veterans.
Recognizing the tremendous need for service dogs among veterans of the United States military, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) has recently selected K9s For Warriors as its official charity.