During their service, the five very good military dogs who received American Humane’s Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage to America uncovered improvised explosive devices, sniffed out weapons caches, survived ambushes, saved lives, protected a president, and boosted morale.
At a Capitol Hill ceremony Wednesday night, American Humane presented the awards to the brave bowsers for extraordinary valor and service.
“Soldiers have been relying on these four-footed comrades-in-arms since the beginning of organized warfare and today military dogs are more important than ever in keeping our service men and women safe,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert in a press release. “At American Humane, which has been working with the U.S. military and military animals for 100 years, we feel it is time to recognize and honor the extraordinary feats and acts of devotion these heroic animals perform every day.”
The five awardees demonstrate the breadth of tasks daring dogs perform in today’s military.
Army Sgt. 1st Class James Bennett served with Coffee, an explosives detection dog, by his side for almost 10 years. In an interview with CBS This Morning, an emotional Bennett recalled how the chocolate lab saved lives and came under fire “too many times” during three tours in Afghanistan.
“She’s never lost a soldier, ever. We’ve never had to go anywhere and say, OK, something happened. She’s never lost anybody,” Bennett told CBS This Morning.
Military working dog Capa deployed to Iraq and provided security for the president, the first lady and secretary of defense.
In Afghanistan, explosive detection dog Alphie, a black lab, cleared villages of IEDs and found weapons and communications equipment.
Ranger, a black lab, worked as an explosive detection dog in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The award was given in memoriam to Gabe, a pound puppy from Houston, who completed more than 210 combat missions with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq. The yellow lab passed away in 2013 after retiring from active duty in 2009.
According to CBS, over 1,600 dogs currently serve in the U.S. military. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, 34 dogs have been killed in action.