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K9 Veterans Day

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A time to commend the courage of all dogs who serve and protect, K9 Veterans Day is observed every year to honor the military dogs and other working dogs whose service assists military, law enforcement and search and rescue efforts.

K9 Veterans Day

When is K9 Veterans Day?

K9 Veterans Day is observed every year on March 13 to honor the founding of the United States K9 Corp on March 13, 1942. The day was established in 2009 by the late military dog handler Joe White.

The annual pet holiday is a show of dogged devotion to our four-legged heroes not only in the armed forces, but also law enforcement, police, customs, and search and rescue.

The date honors the launch of the US Army K-9 Corps program in 1942 and the memory of the brave Belgian Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Eskimo dogs, Collies, German Shepherds and Malamutes who trained to become messengers, sentries and scouts during the second World War.

Although acknowledged in several states, K9 Veterans Day is still not nationally recognized.

Animal lovers who wish to show their appreciation for the contributions made by pooches past and present who have served their country are invited to sign an online petition to have March 13th officially proclaimed National K9 Veterans Day.

For more information, visit the National K9 Veterans Day page at and the National K9 Veterans’ Day Facebook page.

Honoring Military Working Dogs

There are several ways to honor the efforts of military working dogs, such as making a donation to a non-profit that helps to provide life-saving equipment for the four-legged soldiers or tends to the needs of retired MWDs.

  • Kelvar for K9s provides life-saving bulletproof vets for valiant four-legged heroes who find themselves in the line of fire as a military working dog, law enforcement or search and rescue dog.
  • Project Paws Alive raises funds in order to donate K-9 Ballistic vests, K-9 cooling vests, K-9 vehicle heat alarms, K-9 first aid field trauma kits, pet oxygen recovery mask kits and SAR K-9 protective boots for the use of U.S. law enforcement dogs, fire dogs, search and rescue dogs and military K-9 units.

Finding Families for Retired MWDs

Dog devotees can salute the heroism of military working dogs by opening their heart and home to a courageous canine veteran:

  • Mission K9 Rescue — a Houston, Texas-based non-profit which reunites handlers who want to adopt their four-legged friend, finds homes for MWD and CWDs without handlers, and helps the heroic dogs heal both both body and soul from their days on duty.
  • The Warrior Dog Foundation — Founded by a former Navy SEAL, the non-profit offers a new lease on life to retired MWDs either at the organization’s state-of-the-art kennel facility or in a forever home.

Military Working Dog Teams National Monument

Military members stand at attention as the service flags are raised at the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument Oct. 28, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. JBSA-Lackland is the home to the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program and is where the U.S. Armed Forces has been training its military working dog teams since 1958. It is the world’s largest training center for military dogs and handlers and is also home to the largest veterinary hospital for military working dogs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske) (released)

Animal lovers can also show their gratitude to the loyal dogs who have played a vital role in making the world a safer place by paying a visit to the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument.

Standing proudly at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas since its dedication in October 2013, the bronze sculptures depict a Belgian Malinois, a Doberman Pinscher, a German Shepherd and a Labrador Retriever diligently standing guard alongside a Military Working Dog Handler.

A nine-foot tall bronze dog handler represents all U.S. military dog handlers who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the war on terrorism. Another design feature is the “Not Forgotten Fountain,” a fully functional bronze dog and handler water fountain that epitomizes the bond between dog and handler.

“As a nation we owe our war dogs a tremendous debt of gratitude,” said John Burnam, a Vietnam scout dog handler and author of two books on military working dogs, at the unveiling. “Their selfless service, loyalty and sacrifices to our country must never be forgotten. The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is a treasure for us all to ensure they are honored and remembered forever.”

K9 Veterans Honored at Veterans’ Day Parade

American Humane Association

Television viewers watch his portrayal of Detective Odafin Tutuola on the hit NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but on Veterans Day fans saw the star recall his previous real life role in the U.S. Army as he helped to shine a spotlight on the work of military dog teams on a float in a 2014 Veterans Day parade that honored K9 veterans.

“I served in the Army and know the life-saving heroism of these dogs,” said Ice-T. “It is time that we recognize both our human veterans who sacrificed so much and our four-legged veterans who save lives on the battlefield and at home every day.”

One of 40 floats which passed by an estimated crowd 500,000 strong as it traveled along a route up Fifth Avenue from 26th to 52nd Streets in New York City, the dog-themed America’s Parade float included Ice-T’s wife, Coco; dog star Hudson (who showed film fans his acting chops in the silver screen comedy Our Idiot Brother); philanthropist and veterans advocate Lois Pope; American Humane Association President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert; Amy McCullough and Butler the Weather Channel Therapy Dog; Rudy Ridpath and retired Patrol/Explosive Detector Dog Alik, and six military hero dog teams, each of whom saved the lives of 150 – 200 service men and women:

  • Corporal Jeff DeYoung and Military Working Dog Cena — After serving one tour of duty together as part of Operation Moshtarak, the largest military operation in Afghanistan at the time, the Corporal and the canine he proudly calls his “brother” were separated for more than four years. DeYoung’s dogged devotion to his barking buddy, however, led to a permanent reunion for the pair in June 2014.
  • Staff Sergeant Jason Bos and MWD Cila — Defending freedom together for close to five years, in all Cila served a total of seven and a half years. Reunited in April 2014, the two are now enjoying life together in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Staff Sergeant James Harrington and MWD Ryky — The seven-year-old specialized Improvised Detection Dog served with Harrington for four years on two combat deployments– in Iraq from 2008 to 2009 and in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011. The pair ere reunited in June 2014.
  • Corporal Jonathan Cavender and MWD Maxi — Maxi, a 12-year-old Belgian Malinois who acted as a specialized Improvised Detection Dog in Iraq, served with the Corporal for two years as a military police dog at the Marine Corps Air Station in Japan. The pair was brought back together in August 2014.
  • Sergeant Omar Peña and CWD Mariah — After serving seven months together in Afghanistan, Mariah the Improvised Detection Dog was assigned to a different handler, but since July 2014 the Sergeant and his ‘sister’ Marine are together once more.
  • Corporal Nick Caceres and MWD Fieldy — “I trusted him with my life and he never let me down,” the Corporal stated at the end of a three-year separation of the Contract Working Dog who served alongside him in Afghanistan. “The bond we shared was so special and I’m so thankful to be able to adopt him and care for him in his retirement.”

In honor of the canines who serve their country, in 2014 alone the American Humane Association brought home 20 military hero dog teams, with help from Mission K9 Rescue and the U.S. War Dog Association.

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K9 Veterans' Day, March 13
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