Four-legged heroes walk in step with fellow human soldiers on the front-line of war. These military war dogs (MWDs) provide their unique abilities to sniff out improvised explosive devices (IEDs), locate injured soldiers, scout an area for enemy troops, run between two soldiers as a messenger, or stand as a sentry. With their extraordinary gift of smell, dogs save precious time in combat by forewarning their human partners of impending danger impossible for humans to detect unaided.
Dogs apply their unique gifts to work in law enforcement service as well. K9s are four-legged police officers trained to detect drugs, explosives, accelerants in arson investigations, or human suspects. The physical presence of a K9 is often enough to de-escalate a dangerous situation making K9s a valuable member of their law enforcement team. There is a saying among law enforcement officers that “Most men respect the badge, everyone respects the dog” and it is very true. Anyone in their vicinity can attest to the fact that military war dogs and police K9s don’t bluff about their aggression, athleticism, and loyalty.
MWDs and K9s are examples of the perfect warrior: vigilant night and day and ever ready to protect their pack--even at the cost of their own life. These dogs often lead the way as they and their human partners venture into the most dangerous situations. They can be seen doing their duty outfitted with body armor and protective vests just like their handlers, but despite their great value and inspired service, police departments sometimes struggle to raise funds necessary to provide vests for their K9 officers. You can help by donating to organizations such as Vested Interest in K9s, which raises funds for bullet and stab protective K9 vests at www.vik9s.org.
For more on the various specialization types of MWDs and information on how to adopt a veteran MWD visit www.uswardogs.org.
Dogs have a reputation for untiring loyalty and relentless tenacity. You can help a soldier navigate his or her recovery from combat with the unrelenting spirit of a dog. K9s for Warriors is an excellent program that pairs a human warrior with a canine companion specially trained to help him or her heal from the combat injury of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Learn more and consider lending your support here: www.k9sforwarriors.org
By: Former Saint Louis area law enforcement officer, Jasmine B.