It’s Memorial Day, and everyone is ready to honor our service men and women… but what about our service dogs?! Every branch of the military uses trained dogs for everything from scouting to bomb detection. The police also employ K-9 units, even fire departments have used dogs for quite a while, although for different reasons today than they did in the past.

War Dogs have been used for ages!“Military Working Dogs have been used by the U.S. Military since World War I. American families donated their dogs to the military to aid our troops during wartime. Dogs, along with their volunteer handlers, trained in teams as scouts, trackers, sentry, mine/booby-trap/tunnel and water detection of hostile forces. Dogs were used in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. It has been estimated that these courageous canine heroes saved over 10,000 lives during the conflict in Vietnam.”

The Military still uses dogs today!“The program that deals with the Department of Defense Military working dog program is the United States Air Force. Air Force Dog handlers work with their canines to train and detect explosives, or find drugs in a number of different situations. There are over 1300 working Dog handler teams worldwide, and the working dogs from the other services; Army, Navy, and Marine Corps have been through the Air Force Dog Handler Team program.”

The Police take pride in their dogs!“Today, police forces in most major cities use police dogs to track criminals, sniff out illegal materials, search buildings, and do other jobs human police officers can’t do as well as a dog can. Not only are there thousands of police dogs on the job on any given day, but there are also hundreds of police dogs who have given their lives to protect and serve.”

Dalmatians have been an intregal part firefighting for years!In the days of horse-drawn fire carts, Dalmatians provided a special service! “Dalmatians and horses are very compatible, so the dogs were easily trained to run in front of the engines to help clear a path and guide the horses and the firefighters to the fires quickly… The dogs were first used in the fire service when most fire companies were volunteer or privately operated. There was some competition for services. Some of the firefighters were actually recruited not only for their strength in fighting fire but for their fighting abilities to protect the company and its equipment. Insurance companies paid the fire company that put out the fire, so the one that made it to the scene, hooked up to a hydrant and completed the task, got paid. The dogs worked well at this task of protecting not only the horses, but the equipment in the stations and on the fire ground as well.”

Search and rescue dogs help rescue thousands of people!No longer do horse-drawn fire carts and their horses need Dalmatians to run with them. These days firefighters, as well as other first responders, use dogs more for search and rescue, both in fire-related situations, and in other disaster relief. “Founded in 1996, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Ojai, California. [Their] mission is to strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. [They] offer the professionally trained canines and an ongoing training program at no cost to fire departments. And [they] ensure lifetime care for every dog in [their] program: once rescued, these dogs never need to be rescued again.” Now that’s pretty cool! Taking rescued dogs and making them rescue dogs!

So to all service dogs past, and present: Thank you!

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