Though war dogs served with distinction in World War I, and in countless campaigns and conflicts before that — delivering messages, comforting frontline troops, and biting enemy soldiers on the ass — on March 13, 1942 the U.S. Army began training dogs to serve in the newly created War Dog Program, referred to as the K-9 Corps. The War Dog Program marked the beginning of modern military working dogs as we know them.
After a Department of Defense Inspector General report found the Army mistreated military working dogs after they returned to the states from their deployments, the service announced Monday that, well, yeah, you got us, we fucked up. Trained to sniff out improvised explosive devices, the Army’s military working dogs and their handlers deployed to battlefields abroad, forged bonds in training and under fire, and saved lives by identifying roadside bombs. But when it came time for the service to shutter its bomb-dog program, some of those canines returned to the states and were forgotten.
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.