To encourage and fortify relationships between military service members, veterans, their families, their friends, and their Country; to nurture the path of communication for everyone, ensuring that no one is alone or left behind; and proving that we have not, are not, and will never forget the nobility of their sacrifices.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Remembering The Dogs Of War

Dogs have been man’s best friend for hundreds of years.  They have played the role of protector, defender, hunting companion, and family member.  Since dogs are intelligent, they are perfect partners for helping mankind in a variety of ways.  A dog’s sense of smell is renowned; in fact it is so remarkable Japanese researchers are currently conducting a potentially life saving study where dogs diagnose cancer in humans.  Dog’s brains and noses are clearly built for pursuing, tracking, and stalking prey.  Whether the pray is a rabbit, a pheasant, a missing person, a German in World War II, narcotics, or explosive components, dogs are the perfect weapon to accomplish the mission. 

The single minded focus dogs demonstrate while stalking, combined with their unfaltering loyalty make them ideal partners with militaries around the world.  Since 2005 bomb or IED sniffing dogs have increased exponentially in Afghanistan.  Currently the United States, Australia, Canada, and Great Britain all use dogs to detect IED’s in Afghanistan.  The importance of the “Sniffer dogs” mission, to save lives, fused with the troops ability to bond with the dogs is evident by the presence of several veterinary clinics to ensure the Sniffer dogs health. 

Sniffer dogs wounded in action have been treated as true brothers and sisters in the military family.  Canine units have been given the same priority as injured NATO troops.  In cases of extreme emergencies the dogs have been medivac to the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit (MMU) where dogs have received life saving major surgery.  The MMU surgeons have agreed to treat the dogs when certain surgeries are too complex for the small veterinary clinics.

When a Sniffer dog is killed in action, he is mourned like a true brother.  After an in theater memorial service, the sniffer dog is received back to it’s country with honors.  If the dog’s handler is also killed in action, the two are buried together.  Staying true to “Never Forget” the Afghanistan War Dog Memorial Project has been established.  Mahor Donna DeBonis, who served as a Veterinary Officer at Kandahar Airfield in the Summer of 2009 founded the Afghanistan War Dog Memorial.  The current mission as stated on facebook is, “To create and build a War Dog Memorial lodged at Kandahar Air Field by September 11 to pay tribute to the War Dog Lives lost in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.  The Memorial was built for the dedication ceremony OCT 2009. It is maintained by the US Army Veterinary staff on duty at KAF.”  The plaques for the memorial were donated by Cheryl Musket of the AMEDD Museum at Ft. Sam Houston.  Albert Staniforth, a Canadian Civilian Contractor and SGT Wes Stewart contributed their labor to the effort.

Some might wonder, Is it necessary to have a war dog memorial?  A British paper reports that Sniffer dogs and their handlers are HVT or High Value Targets.  The Taliban are seeking out these teams with focused snipers since they have been impacting the efficiency of Taliban IED’s. Read the story of  Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and his Sniffer dog Theo to see the impact these teams have in country and around the world.

With the approach of Memorial Day, I ask you to extend your thoughts, prayers, and thanks to honor the brave IED Sniffer dogs that have lost their lives saving our children and Afghan children from IED’s. 

For a photographic history of dogs in the military around the world check out The Dever Post Dogs Of War

1 comment:

CI-Roller Dude said...

Many days I felt like a dog...

see my post for 26May