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.
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Julia A. Casper
Dogs have been a staple of military life for ages, but in recent years, military working dogs have captured the attention of countless Americans, and for good reason. There’s Cairo, the Belgian Malinois that accompanied SEAL Team 6 on the infamous May 2011 Osama bin Laden raid. And of course, there are the countless other military working dogs who supported their handlers in Iraq and Afghanistan and continue to “pull security” on military bases across the globe.