Memorial Day is right around the corner. It is a time that we can remember and pay tribute to all of those men and women who have died fighting for our country. As we remember these brave heroes, we should also take time to also remember the dogs who have valiantly fought for our country.

Dogs have been used in military operations since ancient times, however, the United States has only been employing war dogs since 1942. In 1943 a war dog training program was established to train dogs to fulfill eight different roles: sentry dogs (guards), attack dogs, tactical dogs (trained in combat), scout dogs, casualty dogs (find wounded soldiers), messenger dogs, sledge dogs (find downed airmen in snow bound regions), and pack dogs (to transport heavy loads).

While many different breeds of dog have served as US war dogs, currently German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Malinois dogs are used in military service. These dogs are the right size and are very trainable as soldiers.

In 1942 when the war dog program began, only 45% of the 19,000 dogs who began the program actually became war dogs. While not much has changed regarding how the dogs are trained, today it costs between $20,000 and $40,000 to train a war dog. Much time and effort is put into choosing and training dogs for service.

honoring service dogsWhen war dogs complete their service to the country, they are de-trained and then either adopted by families, work with police departments or security companies, or become therapy dogs.

On September 16, 2006, in Bristol Township, PA a memorial was dedicated to pay tribute to the dogs who have served our country since World War I. These war dogs have saved the lives of tens of thousands of American soldiers.

War dogs are truly unsung heroes and should be honored. As you celebrate this Memorial Day, take a few minutes to remember these canine soldiers and the countless lives they have saved.  The team at pays special respects to remember and honor our military and working dogs on this Memorial Day.