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Remember to honor veterans of the four legged variety today

Belgian Malinois working dog - Wiki Commons

In honor of Veterans Day, we are going to deviate a bit from exotic animals and explore animals in exotic locations. The Department of Defense Military Working Dog School and the Army Quartermaster Core trains pups from a young age to assist soldiers in combat situations. These dogs, predominantly German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, serve the country as diligently as their human counterparts.

According to information gathered from the Army Quartermaster Core website, the Army Quartermaster Corps began the U.S. Armed Forces first war dog training during WWII. Fifteen War Dog platoons served overseas in World War II. Seven saw service in Europe and eight in the Pacific. Dogs continued to serve the armed forces with distinction in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and are a part of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. About 2,000 dogs are currently active in the military serving all around the world. Each branch of the military is responsible for a part of the dog program and has individuals who work specifically with these animals called handlers.

Many of these pups work double duty, taking care of their “pack” while on duty, going out on patrol and working to sniff out drugs or explosives while also being an integral part of their handlers' lives. Military working dogs and their handlers spend a lot of time together and many believe that these animals serve therapeutic purposes for men stationed in combat zones.

An act signed into law in 2000 by President Clinton allows for the adoption of military working dogs, previously working dogs were euthanized following the end of their service. Foundations such as the National K9 Enforcement Rescue Organization (N.E.R.O.) and the Military Working Dog Foundation function specifically to place these furry heroes into a perfect home following years of faithful service. These pups deserve the same honor bestowed on their human partners when they retire from service. On this Veterans Day, I urge you to help support these wonderful dogs and honor the work they have done and will continue to do through donation of time, money or simply through word of mouth exposure.

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