The holidays are fast approaching, the most joyous and magical time of the year; unless you are thousands of miles from home, in a strange country, without your family and friends. It is hard enough on our human soldiers, but what about our canine ones? These brave dogs put their lives on the line everyday assisting our military overseas. Canine soldiers have been used as a part of the military since World War I although they gained the most fame during the Vietnam War. It is estimated that 4900 canines served during the Vietnam War although only 204 survived. Canines are used in several ways: sniffing out bombs, locating trip wires, booby traps, and ambushes. These were the Scout Dogs. Combat Tracker Teams used Labradors to track down missing personnel, downed pilots, wounded GI's, or the enemy. Canine soldiers are still used today in all four branches of the military; Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.
The United States War Dog association, based in Burlington, New Jersey, is a non-profit organization which was established to not only keep the memory of the numerous War Dogs that have served our country alive, but to support the canines and their handlers currently in service. The US War Dog Association was founded by a group of retired canine handlers and sends goods all over the world to the canine soldiers and their handlers. The canine troops need everything from Doggles to shampoo to Kong toys to Dog Boots. During the summer months in Baghdad the temperature can reach upwards of 106 degrees and the dogs need to have their paws protected against the scorching sand. For the fourth year now Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown located in historic Funkstown, Maryland will be a drop off site for those wishing to donate to this worthy cause . They are collecting items or monies to defer the cost of shipping the goods to New Jersey for the War Dog Association which will in turn disperse the items as needed.
I personally can not think of a more commendable cause for the pet loving community to support. These animals do not enlist, they do not get paid, and they certainly do not get to choose their fate. We as animal advocates have the opportunity to repay them for their loyal and unconditional service to the men and women of our military. Although animals do not celebrate the holidays, what better time of year to extend a helping hand and make their lives better. To learn moare about the War Dog Association, you can visit their website at http://www.uswardogs.org where you will find information about the organization itself and what they offer. You can find a complete list of items needed on their website or at http://www.funkstownvet.com. There is also information on the War Dogs site that discusses the process of adopting a retired military dog. Maybe you are looking for a new friend; this may be the place to start. In years past canine soldiers were not returned to civilian life, they were either left behind or euthanized. This is not the case any longer. Now the dogs have a chance to live out their lives with their handlers and their families or to be adopted out to civilians. I hope you will join us in assisting our K-9 troops overseas and pray for their safe return.